Looking through the Lens




There was was a beautiful sunset last night.  In the afternoon a thunderstorm sent welcome rain.  No watering of flowers or hopeful vegetables was needed that evening.  There were still clouds making their way en masse behind the low hill on the other side of the lake late in the afternoon.  This is my favorite kind of sunset.  Silver or gold-lined clouds and the knowledge that no picture will do it justice.  And why do we need a picture?  What is all this picture taking anyway?  Sometimes it feels like an attempt to prove that I’m really having an experience.  The picture can be shown to others later, sometimes even as the event is happening.  The best part about those ten minutes when the sky was preparing for dark last night were the moments when I  put aside the iPad and allowed my eye to take in the whole thing.  I didn” t have to choose a part of the sky.  It was all mine and I was in it.  Taking the pictures put me outside the experience, made me frame it.  I angled things so that the boat with its incongruous motor should not appear.  But what’s wrong with a boat in a picture of a lake, after all?  Humans made it to experience the water in a way other than looking at it from the shore.  Now I’m sitting on an old swing set up on a rise above the small curved beach by the cabin.  I hear the constant gloop, gloop, shush, shush of the little waves driven by the soft breeze, by the cold stream just up from the beach that day and night flows into the lake.  I don’t try to record that sound, or the sound of birdsong, or some sound of metal being struck occasionally.  Can it be a woodpecker?  ( in the relative calm of 7:30 in the morning it reminded me of half hearted hammering of nails into metal.  And it was!  Someone was doing repairs to the cupola of the little local chapel). So why this rush to fix the images?  Because we can?  Because we want to hold that moment before it ends?  We forget it’s never ending.  On the round earth it’s always sunset for someone.

Sunset over the shopping centre



For poets sunsets are a tricky thing

Like roses, kittens or a diamond ring.

They’re a miracle that makes us gasp

But we hold back for to say it is beyond the grasp

of ordinary poets.

“What a sight!”  “Oh, look how lovely!”

Pink and gold, come sip your tea.

You poet, you!  What makes you so afraid

To say it, write it?  Must your fears forever be obeyed

It’s gold or pink, it’s coral, purple, glowing fire

It’s crimson, palest rose, why can’t it inspire

you to write a hymn, a sonnet or to coin a rhyme?

Yes, a poem for a sunset, is it such a crime?

The buildings and the cars, the traffic light

You”ll write of these, but not the herald of the night.

Not daily splendor, miracle goodbye to day

No poet, keep your cool, keep sentiment at bay.

Yes, turn your head and look away or pretty soon

You’ll write of that pale lantern there, the bright half moon.