The Darkroom

Thanks to everyone for the outpouring of concern regarding my vertigo incident! Everything’s been fine this week; I haven’t gone back to class yet, but I think we’ll give it a shot on Tuesday and feel it out.

Donna had a prompt asking us to write about a misnomer (and why we feel it is one), and/or to use Death Cab for Cutie lyrics as inspiration. My favorite DCFC song (and probably the only one I can sing accurately all the way through) is “I Will Follow You into the Dark”, which for my money is still one of the most bittersweet love songs to play at a funeral there is. (“Casimir Pulaski Day” by Sufjan Stevens edges it by a little bit, and Billy Joel’s “Lullaby” is a good one, though I think “I Will Follow…” owes a lot to that one, in terms of melody.) When I was a youngster, I took a photography course once, and I used to love hanging out in the darkroom playing with the chemicals. So this grew from those three threads… the Death Cab lyric in question is:

You and me, we’ve seen everything to see
from Bangkok to Calgary; and the soles of your shoes
are all worn down; the time for sleep is now,
but it’s nothing to cry about because we’ll hold each other soon
in the blackest of rooms…

And you want a good metaphor, here’s one:

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied,
illuminate the “NO”s in their vacancy signs…

Such a unique and lyrical way to describe that fear of oblivion. Not going up, not going down, just going; and then what a simple, lovely way to reassure each other against it.

The Darkroom

always had enough light to see by, for me:
it’s how I used to imagine twilight on Mars,
landscapes painted in dry blood

it crunches underfoot with clothespins
and swelters like a sulfur spring
and black curtains waiting to begin the show

rising action: images blossoming on paper,
morning glories until the stop bath
caught them in half-breathed black-and-white–

and falling action: your face resolving,
crying vinegar, dangling from the line
until it dried into the memory of a smile

even though you always hated it in here,
tugged at my gloved hands to draw me
out into the meadows thick with broom

squinting after you and letting you pose
with your laughter turned towards the sun
as I snapped shot after shot

so that now, when you’re gone, when there’s
not even a headstone to mark the spot,
I can keep the confetti of those days

glossy prayer flags with a mantra
that shows teeth over and over, whose reality
is reduced to dimming shades of red

and if I do slip into a blindness the color of
closed eyelids, at least I’ll have stayed
in here, cocooning away time with time

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