chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: seeing

found poem: the minutiae

found poem: THE SHORES


1940s Dorothy in Palm SpringsDorothy is about 30 in the photo, on a trip to Palm Springs with her mother, Elsie. Perhaps Elsie’s husband, Max, was there; maybe he took the pictures. It’s hard to know.

I’ve looked at these photos hundreds of times. I turn them over again and again, hoping to discover a fragment of the story. But the reverse is always blank, so I look deeper at the image, trying to decipher something more about the woman who would become my mother.

A while back, I wrote about a photo that was dominated by the looming shadow of my mother’s brother, Bob. Today, after looking at this photo uncounted times, I notice it, too, has a shadow: Elsie.

The metaphor is unavoidable: Elsie and Bob were the twin shadows in my mother’s life. But I am surprised, too, at how easy it is to recognize someone by their shadow alone — and at the mysteriously selective process of seeing, which also offers this circularity: a daughter dominated by the shadow of her mother writes about a daughter dominated by the shadow of her mother.

Things I didn’t know I was missing


jik by DAK ~ detailFor the first time in more than two decades, I am doing some sketching. Invited to join a weekly drawing and painting group, I’ve discovered a cache of colored pencils, partially unused pads of paper and within me the desire to explore a skill never developed but always admired.

My hand feels like a club, my eye dizzied by the complexity of texture, layer, line, everywhere I look. I pretend to be patient with the struggle. This is not about technique. It is about attention, focus, seeing.

Of all the artwork my mother did, her drawing was most her own. She had an acuteness of eye and a delicacy of hand that was unique and consistent, whether she was scrawling in charcoal or doing a quick pencil sketch on the blank page of an annual report.

As I draw, feeling clumsy and half-blind, I look down to see her hand holding the pencil and, here and there, her lines settling light upon the paper.
jik by DAK © 1968 (detail)

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