Winter, Fifth Avenue, New York (1893)

By | 1 March 2017

How I might learn to know
by looking at something a long time,

the way head, heart and hands infuse
darkroom chemistry,

Stieglitz trying too hard
to always make the light
exactly what we see:
a planned attempt at definition

not the shredded “failures”
the “self-torture” of editing, cropping, burning in,
the stuff he hid from us.

What does it mean, then, to me?
I begin with some new overblown title:
the gothic mood suggests
Death rideth towards me

and the photogravure
(the grave of photography?)
the scratched blurry effect
of glass plate tech
adding to a blizzard’s mystic blur,
Manhattan slush,
hints of steam escaping a grate in the street.

What is real in a bi-polar storm
from which two horses emerge
trotting patiently
toward you, in a gesture of intent?
The coach driver wielding the whip?

The driver (him, his other?) appears
just in time for his century.
It seems universal, like Malevich,

a field of black and white
where no birds land and where
last summer’s trees remain threadbare.

Only in the looking back – connecting
our own coloured in versions
of what appears
in a hint, a gap in the traffic

I can see myself in there
as if in a glance
at a forever –
cold and white as snow.

Notes: Alfred Stieglitz, Medium: Photogravure; Dimensions: 21.8 x 15.4 cm. (8 9/16 x 6 1/16 in.)

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