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In the Magnifying Glass

ISSUE:  Winter 2007

In Atget photos some people dissolve in long exposures.
A white blur tells me someone was there, someone moved and disappeared.
But under my magnifying glass I can make out a wisp of girl,
dress like a crumpled flower, a face in the hedge, a dog at loving attention.

The streets glisten with rain and the sky above the filthy
scarred buildings is white: clouds are always moving.
There’s a boy at a window, looking down from the dark
triangle made by the drape caught on his shoulder,
his face as grave as a hero’s on a coin.

None makes an impression on the severe beauty of the streets—
not the man with alert ardent eyes or the woman whose white dress
skirts the damp road, clasped hands like two tiny lockets,
or the white flames of the sycamore leaves or the blazing white stairs,
not the hidden long-dead Atget reflected in the glass door
of Au Tambour, spindly tripod draped in black to shut out light.


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