Wednesday, 24 November 2021


by Rebecca McSwain

In countless photographs, behind the lens,
she was invisible, or at most a shadow to be edited out
as necessary, e.g. from the plaza at Santa Fe, late afternoon. 
She was absent from Bodega Bay, where sea lions swam suspended in crystal waves,
and again not there in Idaho, at the dark lake just south of Coeur d’Alene.
She was not present on a Sonoran desert ridge at twilight,
nor at dawn in a field of Kansas sunflowers.
Then in a too-bright eastern room (Vermont),
one picture that hung on a noncommittal white-washed wall
showed her reflection in the windshield of a truck,
a blurred shiny woman, small camera in hand.
A mistake.  But still, there she was.
That had been the day when
near an escarpment above the Guadalupe River
one of her fellow travelers, a geologist,
casually reached out to touch on something
universal and timeless.
She knows by now that human stories, pictured,
take the eye in unexpected directions.
Solid form and high-gloss color
lead into amorphous shadows, deep and black,
and the missing parts of an image of herself
might finally become clear,
when her eye connects them all,
finding and seeing, leaving nothing out.

* * * * *

Rebecca McSwain has been an archaeologist, an editor, and a medical transcriptionist. Her poem "Normal" was published in The Hiram Poetry Review. Spring 2021. As Madalyne Della, her story "A Hat and a Mirror" was published in Scribble online and nominated for a Pushcart prize.
Shakespeare Festival Sonnet Contest, anthology publication forthcoming.

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