Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Poem of the Day: “Bygone” by David Pring-Mill, Frequent Contributor



Bygone
David Pring-Mill

What mysteries will spring
from contemporary photos
once they're historical photos?

how will imagery be perceived,
within a sweeping context
so uncompromising,
so washing of detail?
an unexpected blast of light
in a darkroom
seems like benign mishap,
compared to the impact
of a retrospective…

what damning history
will define us
as people?

I wonder this,
while studying a black-and-white photo
of a beautiful woman in the 1940s.

a titillating swaying of hips,
her legs showcasing
the voluptuous ideal,
and taking it from place to place,
with propping of equal engagement...

she is the epitome of beauty.
she's been gone for sixty years,
fading,
from a state so developed and precise
in perfection;
now crisp, as if to stiffly crumble,
now developed to the point
of decrepit paper,
with a depiction
first formed out of
a lens now shattered in a landfill,
making its way back
to the silica out of which
it was once fused.
 
the photo is accurate
to a reality
that is no longer reality;
but the truth of that moment
can never be tarnished.

when you believe in the heart
of humanity, a pulse
runs through every old typeface,
through every image accurate
and then depleted of its truth;
it all feels so alive,
especially, the faces
and names…
their veracity so short-lasting.

I remember thumbing through history books
of sepia photos,
and thinking
there is a uniquely generational look to faces.
beyond wardrobe,
beyond the ways that bones and wrinkles
express the hardships of a time,
there is a sameness to each generation,
and though I struggle to attribute it
to any specific set of features,
I see it in the faces,
that sense of belonging
to a certain timespan
of birthing and living.

what mysteries will spring
from the textures of today?
how will we look
after the world spins
thousands of times more,
with old knees buckling,
new babies born,
careless snapshots taken?
I question all this,
while posing for pictures.

Poet's Notes:  I wrote "Bygone" after looking at some rare historical photographs. There is something fascinating and eerie about peering into the past.

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