Legacy–David M. Harris

You can’t get Kodachrome now. eBay took
most of the equipment. Even the digital
camera languishes in a drawer somewhere.
I usually remember to carry my phone,
but it isn’t the same. Traveling, I take a few
snaps, animals in the zoo, a streetcorner poet
in New Orleans. The phone takes pictures;
the SLR made them, and made me make them.

Living in Manhattan, I sometimes strapped
the Pentax around my neck and walked.
I always found the pictures, books filled
with those photos, thick and dusty, filled
with slides and prints no one has seen
but me. My father died before I started that,
but taught me darkroom basics,
developing and imprinting skills,
hoping I might learn to love the visual,
recognizing and recording images,
maybe even have the career
he abandoned in the newsroom, exposing
the world in print. But I didn’t have the eye,
never saw the light which is the medium,
and getting better was harder
than giving up his ambition.

Words come to me by themselves.
They press me, importuning, supplicating,
soliciting my rumination.
Etymology calls to me like Tuvan
throat-singing, overtones harmonizing
with my imagination. Here are my lens and film,
my muse, who took me into the newsroom
and out again. We make demands on each other,
Language and I, each subject to the other’s
whims. Still trying to capture the visions
I never managed to snag with my camera.
Still trying to fulfill the dreams I inherited
with his old cameras.

Until 2003, David M. Harris had never lived more than fifty miles from New York City. Since then he has moved to Tennessee, acquired a daughter and a classic MG, and gotten serious about poetry. His work has appeared in Pirene’s Fountain (and in First Water, the Best of Pirene’s Fountain anthology), Gargoyle, The Labletter, The Pedestal, Masque and Spectacle, and other places. His first collection of poetry, The Review Mirror, was published by Unsolicited Press in 2013.