Shadowtrain

Jill Magi
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[Possible Narrative for a Photo-roman]

 

 

 

On her way home from school, a young girl was singing on a mountain road.

 

On her way home from church, a young mother held the hands of her children and listened to their soft singing.

 

He was playing the game “Go” with the priest of the mountain temple.

 

He was playing chess with the dope dealer.

 

“Tonight I took a wife” was the first sentence of the book.

 

This morning I took a breath, of course, not unlike the waves.

 

*

 

The city was a mountain. It was possible to slip off one particularly steep side. The mountain was shaded brown and yellow, depending on how its various faces were oriented to the sunlight.

 

We rose and fell in large waves. I looked over my shoulder to find a huge ship cutting through the tide, our conversation.

 

This scene was particularly blue. Everything, flecked.

 

A dream that I am offered a new job is the shape of the space between chair and table.

 

Today the waves seem to have something to do with the passing of my friend’s mother.

 

*

 

Contemplating photography, a softening in my stance toward the things that annoy me, each angle.

 

Across the street sit men near windows having a meeting under bright lamps.

 

A slight shift of the shoulders can be profound, even as imagined.

 

I notice he stands at the door and talks with his hands. His shirt, confident.

 

*

 

In the frosted glass door, brightly lit by the reflection of the snow, pine boughs cast their shadows.

 

In the small panes of glass that made up the French doors, I caught the reflection of my feet, legs, torso, shoulders, my face, eyes.

 

In the leaves of the oak tree, there was a silver sun.

 

In the waves of the river, there was a rippling moon.

 

The cousin who dies on a mountain.

 

The morning of disappointment.

 

The water of the lake glittered in the distance.

 

The sunlight on the brick faded as the afternoon approached.

 

The husband and wife had both caught colds and were sleeping side by side.

 

The brother and sister had both made small fortunes and were sitting across from each other. It was summer. It was spring.

 

*

 

He wore stripes, as do houses undergoing fumigation.

 

She was, all along, ambivalent or a tourist.

 

The title of the book is visible, as inscribing practices form the privileged story. The end of the bolt of fabric.

 

She glides some history.

 

He is about to glide into the mouth of awe.

 

*

 

The café speaks of another era, its tables rounded, the brown upholstery of political intentionality. It is international and well-situated at the intersection.

 

Alongside the curb is an abandoned cup. A mix of snow and rain. Wind comes through this.

 

The quiet of snow is a response to her photos.

 

*

 

Even without a curtain, the mirror appears to window the next space.

 

I remember Grandmother’s portrait as the composition with a snakeskin, medical document, another language altogether. Her hair pulled back, historical.

 

*

 

The importance of telling stories, the mistruth of stories, the social, the larger.

 

The artist said that he was interested in taking the emotional temperature of the times we live in.

 

The chair was gilded and the upholstery featured kittens having a tea party.

 

*

 

Stand on the earth. An instruction. Yet they don’t know how the shape of an elegy soothes.

 

They pray anyway and trust that the sky won’t lock the door to their god.

 

Broken chairs are held together by wire.

 

Until each individual makes peace with their own emotions. I stopped short. I turned around.

 

*

 

Of course the dancing girl hated it. Like carrying a rooster under her arm. No matter how late at night.

 

And the musician. Carrying his bass around the city no matter how little the pay. Carrying disgruntled passengers.

 

This was a good year for persimmons. This was a good year for roses.

 

*

 

Either her bag was too big or the sidewalk was too crowded.

 

Getting there was always a struggle though there was plenty to drink. It was winter and crowds.

 

Either we look deeply to find our purpose or we skate on the surface of a day and wonder which is more pleasant.

 

Nothing could replace the elation I felt from doing this for so many hours.

 

Was I only half wrong? I knew you knew.

 

This was intuition. A bag full of sour oranges. How a citizen responds to war but not on their soil.

 

I was aware that my face was pleasant compared to all the workers around me. I was aware that I have suffered in order to have this time.

 

*

 

Imagine the drive back to New Jersey tonight. Some would judge this but I envy the trees.

 

The children sit and comb small feathers.

 

Luxury grew tiny with each decade and this separated them from their parents who believed.

 

The lovers drive pleasant roads only.

 

 

Copyright © Jill Magi, 2008

 

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