To say that a picture is worth a thousand words is true I suppose. But only if you’re counting all the ones that are left unsaid. The things it failed to capture and yet, were present all the same.
That picture of us that sits atop my second shelf only captured a moment. It is a mere sliver in time when you were smiling and I was smiling because the photographer told us to.
It does not tell of weathered hearts and dusty dreams… of successes or of failures… Nor promises kept and promises broken. It gives no hint toward the future or revelation of the past.
That time I made you laugh so hard you nearly choked to death is nowhere to be seen. The scar on my left wrist I got while running after you is just outside the frame.
Weekends on the water, midnight rides and long, late nights of talking are written behind our eyes but no one would ever know it — were they to pick it up and hold it. Should they ever really, really study it…
That time when you were smiling and I was smiling because the photographer told us to.
Do you remember? That image on my second shelf? It is the one collecting dust. That picture of us.
22 thoughts on “That Picture of Us”
Beautiful. Thank you Joanna.
Aww… thank you Fawn! I never know how something will be received that is a little different but I thought I’d chance it on this one anyway. I am thrilled that you like it!
It’s funny about pictures. For exactly what you say here. THere’s a lot more behind photos than can be seen in a professional picture.
I know. I really got to thinking that day that a picture captures a moment in time and there is actually SO MUCH going on behind the scenes that the viewer will never know.
Wow, Joanna, I’m speechless. I’ve been to the Academy of American poet’s website many times, and I haven’t seen anything better than this, and a lot that were not nearly as good.
Thank you Donald! I don’t know about great poetry, but I was feeling inspired by a couple of photos that I had around me that day when I sat down to write. The story is sort of a combination of both a photo of Lee and me as well as one of my dear childhood friend and I but I didn’t want to get too specific b/c I wanted people to be able to insert themselves into the frame… whatever their unique story may be. I am so glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Very true. People will insert what they want to. I was thinking it might have been a reference to your ex-husband. Those sorts of things are tragic and sad — and yet some residual affinity sometimes remains, making the memories bitter sweet, but still unforgotten.
That’s the way I go about writing scenes. I just give the basics of what’s there, and other people seem to fill it in quite well. It’s not unusual for them to say that they love the way I described something, when in fact I actually didn’t describe anything.
Deniro and some other actors were on Charlie Rose for an hour last week, and that’s what Robert said: There are scenes where you don’t need to think or feel anything. All you need to do is have a specific look on your face and people will make it what they want it to be –some thing you were mentioning.
Still mulling over become a story writer?
Still mulling it over, yes. Meanwhile I just keep doing what I do and hope that in the right time I will be able to pull some of my existing work together to make something of a book of essays.
This piece was not about an ex at all. But I hoped that people might read it and interject whoever THEIR person might be in their own “Picture Of Us.”
That’s cool to know the backstory of DeNiro’s technique. I love him!
Don’t know exactly what you’re mulling over, but short stories are a good way to begin, it seems to me.
Mulling and procrastinating. Really just mulling over which essays I would like to polish and include in a submission to a publisher… setting the proper tone, etc. I should do more short stories. I think the idea of the brevity sometimes intimidates me. You, on the other hand, are excellent at short stories!
So write ’em long, and then take out the boring parts. 🙂
Beautiful – thanks so much for sharing:) Have a Great One!
Thank you, Renee! I am glad you liked it. Hope you are having a great week 🙂
Wonderful reflection…It is like looking at pictures of our ancestors and wondering what really is YOUR story? Well said.
Yes! Thanks Ma. That was really what I was getting at… how there is a more complete story that has been captured in the picture but will never be fully known.
Beautifully written. So glad I could start my morning with this. 🙂
Thank you Katie! I am really glad you enjoyed it and I appreciate your saying so.
Your gifts are so diverse Joanna. Touching and thought provoking. Beautiful 🙂
Thank you JT! I am really excited that people liked this because as I have stated a couple of times… it was a little different and as you know it is always a little scary to put something “different” out there for everyone to see. I decided I didn’t care and to give it a shot. Turns out… I guess you guys liked it! 😀 Thanks for sharing!
I love your writing, and this is your most beautiful piece yet.
Thank you so much! That means a lot coming from such a prolific writer as yourself. I have stated here before that I was really hesitant to share this piece b/c it was so different. But then I thought “What the hell… Just Do It!” Thanks again for your words 🙂