Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Photographing a Junk Auto in the Woods

Burned and rusted to a turn,

the Studebaker has relaxed

into the forest. Birch saplings thread

through the punched-out windows.

Wasps have woven a nest in the springs

of the roasted upholstery.

The bakelite steering wheel has cracked

in an attractive snakeskin pattern.

The hood yawns with boredom. Beneath,

only the engine block remains,

an iron tombstone. Every part,

every wire, tube, or device,

carburetor, generator, vacuum,

fuel, and water pumps, long gone.

Posing you draped on this wreck

I revel in the contrast

and hope my photographs expose

the essence of both your wintry

post-Slavic grin and the grimace

of this fifty-year-old sedan.

You’re enjoying this notion

of art as devolution—

this vehicle having exhausted

its utility now embracing

the role of public sculpture.

But you too could achieve

the stasis of art, your dental work

perfected, your scruff of hair tinted

a lovely Halloween orange.

The light whispering through leaf-fall

and sudsing of the river flatter

your sleek, uncompromised figure;

and as you lean into the photo

you eclipse the morbid old car

and warp the space-time continuum,

rendering the past moot and the point

of light puckered in the camera

inexorable as a kiss.

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