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ansel adams’ aspens :: ailbhe darcy

by on December 11, 2015

To tiny Ansel Adams, newly arrived on this earth,
the sky must seem a miracle. I’d commit the scene
to black and white if I could, the sky bright

and bottomless, trees gnarled as the knees of elephants.
Helpless in his Biltrite pram, Ansel Adams is watching
the clouds roll in. Then the clouds would gather speed,

roll out again, and the camera pan down to Ansel Adams
the man kneeling on granite, choosing one filter
over another. It’s as though more and greater apparatus

were needed to recapture that first exposure, says
the voice-over: as though Ansel Adams were a pioneer
toiling after the spirit, not just the body, of America.

To tiny Ansel Adams, newly arrived on this earth,
the sky must seem a matter of fact. It’s the mind
beneath he wants to grasp, stowed in its smart black

enclosure. I’d have his pram gather speed and transform,
a cartoon robot against the heavens, wheels spinning,
into Ansel Adams’ camera. Now the bright black sky

is Ansel Adams and Ansel Adams the filter;
light renders each tree a bouquet of paper;
the Great Depression gathers like so much weather.

To tiny Ansel Adams, newly arrived on this earth,
the sky is what it is, taut with its isness.
Some time before dawn, the section framed

by interior blackens and brightens and each tree out there
glows with itself, with the certainty of all Ansel Adams’
aspens. No one is watching but this one bewildered

immigrant, toiling after sleep, saturated in monochrome.
Sometimes it’s all you’ll find in the wilderness: Ansel
Adams, tiny in his pram, composing the day just gone.

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