The Thing of Nature That Defies or Defers, Rather Than Presupposes, Representation
I’m cool standing, we say to the studio chaise’s cooling board ambition. The photographer sets for a fruitless still life. Attempted portraits of us are inclined to landscape orientation. It isn’t that we’d fish-eye the lens, but that some eyes’ lenses insist something fishy. The shutterbug keeps on checking that the camera’s uncapped. We get it, we get it: though is it we be constricting light, or vacay it to rich space? Photog cocks a new angle, bent on composing what rubatos composure and composition. The kamera kalkulates us as low light; seems we might be a dim holt, in a damp hull, or a damned hole (in it or itself). Though is it we (who) be conscripting eyes, or melee them to sic race? And-a-one, two, three: say cheese! We say life, inclined to insist on checking that constricting, bent low might (damned in itself—sick, too). This very teeming skeeves some, its accommodation of objects into a body, its embodiment of objecthood, we are actor and scene—the frame only part of the production. We quit the sitting, since the work to our living’s an off-camera oeuvre. That surveillance produces the nothing it suspects we are. Please don’t throw me in that periphery, says the rabbit figment.
Copyright © 2021 by Douglas Kearney. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 23, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.