Here in the Future We Are Always Watching Ourselves
Once we walked next to a river full of silver fish and factory run-off and knew we were there. We didn’t consider backdrop or backlighting. We walked. We fretted about the carcinogens. We imagined being thirty, moving to Belgium. Overhead a tree frog made its ridiculous small sound and maybe we laughed, or maybe we welled up for a second, the futility of that noise against the river’s steady pulse, but we heard it. Once someone took a picture of us before we were ready, standing by a lake, a dogwood, a field of sunflowers, and it was two weeks until we got that film developed, and then there we were off-guard in front of some beautiful thing, sharp-skinny or round with youth, hands outspread in a strange almost-egret angle, hair hanging to our waist, maybe, or buzzed close like we did that summer, open-mouthed as if we were saying something, which we almost certainly were. Now we’re never saying something in the photos. How powerful we are now. How careful. The construction of a world requires diligence. Is that tulip tree the best tulip tree? Is that moon the best moon? Do our crow’s feet show, and if so, is it in the most self-assured way? What about the sky behind us, is it red enough for revelation, are the streaks coming through? Is that mountain significant enough? We’ve seen others like it. These dandelions are furred and lovely in the afternoon sun, but our hands look old. Try again. When did our skin start to gather like that? When did the moon get so flawed? Look at that photo by the lake, the tree, the field. We were there once, and our hands, our strange hands, were so perfect.