Light breaks where no sun shines; Where no sea runs, the waters of the heart Push in their tides; And, broken ghosts with glow-worms in their heads, The things of light File through the flesh where no flesh decks the bones.
A candle in the thighs Warms youth and seed and burns the seeds of age; Where no seed stirs, The fruit of man unwrinkles in the stars, Bright as a fig; Where no wax is, the candle shows its hairs.
Dawn breaks behind the eyes; From poles of skull and toe the windy blood Slides like a sea; Nor fenced, nor staked, the gushers of the sky Spout to the rod Divining in a smile the oil of tears.
Night in the sockets rounds, Like some pitch moon, the limit of the globes; Day lights the bone; Where no cold is, the skinning gales unpin The winter’s robes; The film of spring is hanging from the lids.
Light breaks on secret lots, On tips of thought where thoughts smell in the rain; When logics dies, The secret of the soil grows through the eye, And blood jumps in the sun; Above the waste allotments the dawn halts.
Light? What is gentle and beautiful about light? Light is a harsh thing, the kind of thing that sent Dylan Thomas off on long rants. When you have to deal with harsh tropical light all the time, you envy photographers in parts of the world where the sun slants down and filters through a thick layer of air to drip its soft light on things. They can keep their fatuous sunbeams. We know what sunlight is: a killer.
Midwinter’s light in Thailand (the featured photo) is so harsh that it has to be filtered through leaves to yield a photo with shadows. Compare that to the similar photo from the Camargue in the south of France. The contrast is less harsh as you go away from the equator. The mangoes and jasmine buds photographed yesterday in my balcony have to compensate for harsher light than the gentle summer light of Europe.
Google’s scan is not a perfect app, but it gives you a reason to dig deeper into the archives to jog very old memories. These are thirty years old. I looked at the featured photo and remembered opening my bedroom window on a cold and sunny winter morning, marveling at this view, and then taking up my new camera to record Mont Blanc and the Saleve. I saw the peak clear very seldom, and I never had my camera at hand when I did. The scan app has introduced some glare into the bottom of the picture, and lost part of the definition that the print has. But it captures the clear blue of the sky, and the sun on crisp mornings which make you want to go out for a walk in the mountains.
One weekend that winter I drove out to Zermatt. I stopped the car and took this photo just before the road descends into the valley. It was not yet peak season, and I could just pull into a nice looking hotel and get a room. I had never been in snow like this before, and I decided that I would learn to ski. Over the weekend I got the hang of how to walk uphill with skis on. I realized early on that downhill was not for me. But learning this one technique was useful for the next two years, as I spent my free time in the Jura getting to like cross country skiing.
I remember doing a lot more in Geneva than my photos capture. I guess before phones one just didn’t take so many photos. The gnarly pine in silhouette above was taken at a little park called Promenade du Pin, which I would pass whenever I walked from the lake up to the cozy bars and restaurants at Place Bourg-de-Four. We would often stop to admire and laugh at the outrageously priced cigars on display at the window of a tobacconist on this route. I never thought to take a photo of the display. I would do it without thinking now.
Let me end with a picture of this gardening shed in the fields outside Meyrin. I remained amazed by how abruptly the city ended and gave way to farmland. In early spring I saw a tractor churning up the mud in fields like this, and in late summer there might be corn ripening in the sun. But I liked the bleak winter landscape with the locked shed, and snow covering the churned up mud.
This extremely important, but not the most famous, Swiss school is tucked away in a basement on an obscure lane in the Hoengg area of Zurich. You almost need to be a Privatdetektive to find this obscure door.
Berne’s university looks down at the switching yard to the town’s main railway station. I saw this grungy looking pattern of horizontal and vertical lines as I peered over a railing and took a photo with my phone. The lens seems to have a minor colour aberration: you can see that the center of the photo is a little biased to red.
With a camera I pause and think about what I take, and often miss what I wanted. With a phone I just click anything: mundane or not.