Jul/Aug 2003 Poetry

Zones of Gray

by Sandy Steinman


Zones of Gray

I focused my graflex, mounted steady
on a tripod as she rolled her eyes,
hugged dimpled knees, pensive
at Bridal Veil Falls, posed in profile
under tall trees.

I hung the photo on the wall,
my former wife, exposed.
Yosemite. Black and white film.
Fiber-based, acid free paper. Archival.

Note the background textures: carved barks
of ponderosa, giant sequoia shadows; patterns
reflected in a mirrored lake: clouds, heavy oak limbs,
contrasts; varied gray tones.

We photographers call them zones.

Vivid color excited her, quickened her heart,
melted all rational senses. Perhaps an enzyme
gushed, and she fled with a pastel painter,
left me the child.

I shifted my path, discovered power
over color wavelengths and altered
my daughter's perception. To ensure
her protection, I snipped off a mere slice
of spectrum, withheld malevolent hues.

Irreversible, the girl will remain achromatic.

She is now grown , delights in each gray zone,
marvels at highlights, at scale. In shadows,
entranced, she seeks every detail.


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