Behind her a teenage girl, most likely her daugh-ter, half hidden,
looks out, embarrassed, timid.
His mind sails back to the years spent between
taxis and airports and airless hotel rooms and clogged streets of
riot and demand, murderous resentment, suicidal hope, the riots, the
politics of hate, the weird bloody-minded euphoria of those strange
wild years when he first entered the profession, fresh out of school,
and cut his teeth on his craft through the wire services, which is
what a young ambitious photographer did in those days. A crazy, exhilarating
time, strangely exalting and terrible ...
The woman is hurt, denouncing and accusing. As if
caught in an act of shame.
Leave us alone, you jackal!
Mississippi, Haiti, Africa? And did I have even
the decency to stop? Or did I just keep on shooting, drunk with the
power of the camera,
the photojournalist if you please, shaming the world with your
Ambitious, idealistic, confused young thug
that I was.
There are dozens, hundreds, like this one, teem-ing
in their show of misery, fury, exposed wounds.
He slips the negative back in, pulls out another.
A seascape, black beneath the sun.
It startles him. He stares at the blackness
for a moment, blinking. It shouldn't shock him so; it's a negative,
after all. The exact opposite of what I saw.
A few lean bones of fragile-looking fishing boats
appear beneath the celluloid's once shiny surface. Serene. Remote.
That time in Trinidad maybe -- a busman's holiday. For a travel
brochure, never printed, for a cruise company that never launched.