Wednesday, September 9, 2009

after days of waiting

Did I ever mention that I dropped my camera and broke the lens connectors during our runaway weekend?

It is (was) an old camera - as in, actual physical rolls of film which I have to take into Walgreen's to be developed. Except lately, I have the ladies in photofinishing put the images directly on disk, rather than make prints.

Today I picked up the disk. The roll was one my mom and I had found while we were cleaning out a forgotten drawer in the house that used to be my grandparents' - both now deceased. The film in its roll looked unused, and aspiring toward thriftiness I stuck it in my camera.  But - as you can see below - the film had already been exposed to someone else's life.  My grandpa's, in fact, who died last September.  It's his life trying to re-assert itself up through my life, so tenuously superimposed, in these pictures below.

If one were inclined that way, one could consider this as Art, calling it Life in Death in Life. Or Outside/Inside. Or The Blue Door. (Do you see the pale blue door in the lower center?)

One could note the way the marching rhythm of the past (wood planking of grandpa's cabin) fits almost seamlessly with the upright rhythm of the present (Home Depot's color swatches). One could note the tiny persistent presence of my grandfather, so lately living, standing at my husband's elbow. One could wonder - Is Grandpa whispering something up my dear one's sleeve? And by the expression on Fritz' face, is this murmur good news or is it not?

If one were feeling metaphorical, one could even note that it is at the Door, standing so bright there in the center, where Past/Present and Life/Death switch over to each other  (planks to swatches :: grandfather to Fritz). If one were chasing the metaphysical, one could note the overarching crucifix (crowned with flowers in all the colors of life / palely thrusting up, breaking through the flowers of life) - a crucifix which is also the post holding up the roof over the porch of my uncle's cabin, a porch like the one in that poem:
Now my aunts and uncles and cousins
gather on the shaded porch of generation,
big enough for everyone.
But this picture is not Art. Neither artifice, nor artifact.  Not made.  It is an accident.
Like so much of life.

And this is not an omen - the persistent image of the dear-departed seeping up and overpowering a day we spent together, my threatened husband and I, choosing new lights to hang in our home, to light the table we gather around and the hall where we come in and go out.

This is not a message.

In any way.

Except in the way that everything is a message.

The the same way, for example, that my grandmother's garden (still tended by my Grandpa for fifteen faithful years after her death right up until last summer) is the vigorous ghost behind my spindly tomato plants in containers.

The way my basil (and the tiny watermelon hiding in the shadows) fades away even while saying  now. now. No matter how they insist on their presence and their solid reality, becoming ghosts progressively squeegeed away in the following frame by yesterday's skies and an old-time automobile.

No message.  No omen.  Not Art.

Just twice-used film and a broken camera that works less and less each shot I take.

And that there seems anything at all àpropos in the fact that I was going through these pictures this afternoon when Fritz called is only because my mind chooses to make the connection.

Because truly this picture means nothing but camera malfunction. 
Is not the picture of life and sky and greenery wiped away by whatever it is at the end of the roll of film.  Or it is a picture of that, but not that I should take it personally.

This half-axed picture has no power to shift the balance in my own day-to-day between greeny blue light and lurid darkness.

Has no referent in words like, "Not cancer, HOWEVER the doctor says I have a high-grade PIN - " (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia - in case you're wondering).

No connection except that my eyes were seeing this, when my ears were hearing, " - so, there's going to be another biopsy in 6 months. And he says chances are 50-50. By 6 months, 50% progress to cancer. The other 50%, the doctor says, they enter into a watchful waiting game." Oh, what a game that would be.

Not cancer.

I'm deciding "not" sounds like good news. And we'll just live these next 6 months with all the vigor and vim our middle-aged and admittedly conventional and easily distracted selves are capable of.

And I have somewhat to say to You, MORTALITY: You thought You could call my bluff this way, didn't You? When I announced I wasn't going to pay You any mind any longer, You thought You could call the tune and make me dance.

Well, I get it, okay?  You're always going to be there at my elbow, aren't You? And I suppose when You actually put Your hand on my shoulder I'll have no choice but to attend to what is necessary, for the time necessary. But otherwise, I'm standing by my guns. I will ignore You.  Or at least hold Your hand and make You dance to the tunes I choose.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming (volume turned up perhaps a little louder).


Lisa B. said...

I LOVE THESE PICTURES. And I love this post. And I am glad for your good news.

You might try blowing up some of these pictures and framing them, because they look kind of like art to me. (I should show you the awesome blurry moose pictures that I blew up and framed--they are totally art, even though it was entirely accidental, the way the pictures came out. Somewhere in there is my artist's manifesto, by the way.)

Mrs. Organic said...

I love that first picture - it is art. Congratulations on your good news.

Emma J said...

Mrs O - any advice for the next 6 months? - since you've gone through it?

Lisa B. - I believe I agree with your manifesto - totally art/ entirely accidental - and I would love to see your blurry moose!

Melissa said...

If you were going to have a roll of film overtake your current shots, I think I would choose a roll taken by Grandpa. What interesting mixes of images. I agree with the other commentors, they do look like art. So glad the news is good today. If only it were a closed case, but we can rejoice for now, right? Love you guys.

Emma J said...

thanks, Mel. And yes, let's rejoice today. What should we do?

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