Studio Log

process work, writing, inspiration, and studio documentation. 

Things About This Photograph

On the table—

upside-down salt cup
stack of writings
dish of salt flakes

On the walls–

broken watch
photo booth strip depicting the bruises you gave me
scraps of writing

On the shelf–

blinding clamp light
two broken jeep headlights
shelf of broken things
art books, poetry, novels

And also–

the light hitting your arms
exposed shoulders
your face a blurry shadow
the space between your right arm and your body:
wanting (a hand, slid between)
your hand held up to your mouth
to hide
to blur
to not be

 

And, and–

my desk chair in sharp focus
the negative space where my body does live
does want to live



stuckey.jpg

Still,

BWalstonWomanhood-2.jpg

There was a jar with precious inches of water
And inside,
Tulips
Hellebores
Fritillaria
A few chive blossoms,
still tight in their papery bodies,
punctuation marks on the ends of stems.


They were all yearning towards the sun
They were all growing,
Still, even cut
Even in water
Even dying


I was still growing too,
Even cut,
even dying. 


And the only thing to do, in the Portland sun,
in the warm spring light,
Filtering in through the arched windows

The only single action to take, was to strip off my shirt,
To pull a single tulip from the jar, 

Peachy.
Just beginning to open like a bowl
A thing that holds other things

And hold it against my chest,

A lover
A caress

An empty hand on my skin
A nothing person running their palms along me

They’re dying too,
Just like this tulip
Just like me


Everything’s always dying
The sun’s always hovering in the golden hour
This tulip will stay half bloomed for it’s entire life


And I’ll stand here,
naked,
shirtless


Ghost hands on my body
Ghost arms wrapped around my ribcage
A non-being pressed against me,
crushing the tulip between us.


And I exhale.
And the shutter clicks.

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Forsythia

Every year the forsythia blooms and I think of this photograph. It was taken back in 2011, on a trusty little Holga, the shutter clicked by a friend who hasn't spoken to me in 10 months. I lived in the old four-plex that was filled with traffic sounds, right off Natio. One night my best friend was staying with me and we went on a night walk, watching the traffic getting onto the Ross Island bridge. We found this huge forsythia bush. At the time I didn't know it was named forsythia. I just knew it was a big blazing ball of yellow, that appeared after months and months of rain and dark, like a flame. 

I stood in it, wondering about spiders, while she photographed me with the Kodachrome film in the camera. The shutter was set to bulb, the photograph is so blurry. Just a ball of yellow and a girl in the middle.

Each spring the forsythia blooms, I always notice it while I'm driving, the big balls of yellow flowers dotting the hills by the highway. Like torch flames leading me from one point to the next. And I always think of this image, the girl standing in the fire, captured by her best friend.

Ocean River

Yesterday Ali and I went to the coast, to the river that feeds out onto Cannon Beach and into the ocean. Ali was there to send an offering to her dolphin.  

The river’s not that deep, but it’s fast moving and it’s fucking cold. Ali had to cross it to get to the part of the coastline she wanted, so I stayed behind on one side, and she waded into the water holding her flower garland. I took photo after photo of her crossing, walking, becoming a tiny dot in my viewfinder. Then I focused my attention on the edges of the river.

The water carves right through the beach. There’s not a riverbank, but it doesn’t care, it just cuts right through the sand and makes one. Where the water laps at the edges, the sand gets carved away from underneath, until the weight of it is too much to bear, and it cracks and falls with a splash and gets reabsorbed by the water.

It seems sudden, but if you stand there for a few minutes, you can see the pattern, see which bits of sand and protruding further out. You can tell which are going to soon be too heavy to hold, and if you lock your eyes on one, you can eventually see the crack that starts appearing just before it falls.

So I was just standing there, watching these little pieces of sand break off and get smoothed over by the running water. I wanted to catch a photo of it happening. I could get the crack, the crack widening, but then the next frame was the chunk of sand splashing into the water. I wanted that one frame of the piece of sand still almost connected, the crack too wide to heal, but the sand not totally in the water. But it didn’t happen. Maybe some things you just can’t photograph. Too brief.

Eventually Ali came back, and I photographed her small body coming into view until it was standing in the river in front of me, looking tired and happy. We walked up and down the beach a little after that, the sun still low and the light warm, like a second sunrise.

Mostly I find myself falling in love with the endless expanse of ocean in front of me. I think about drifting off, and being surrounded on all sides by water, and above by sky. I let myself feel small, like I’m the tiny dot in the viewfinder. Things get quieter. But yesterday, I was just thinking about those cracks in the sand, the edges of the river breaking off. That moment I was trying to capture—separated, but still attached. Both sides trying to stay together, and the water just running out to sea.