Darkroom Photography, First Period
I am the first one here.
Viewing negatives on the light table,
I find one and itch
to open the chamber
that leads to the darkroom.
Soon, others stroll in:
Javier, the Hoopster.
Nathan, the Nuisance.
Brenda, star of The Brenda Show.
The bell rings as Mrs. Pratt
breezes through the door,
clapping her hands
to get everyone’s attention.
I should say,
Because nobody needs to tell
Bringing to Light
I slip the photo paper
into the developing solution,
sway it around with black plastic tongs
The hum of air from the overhead vent,
the swish of chemicals,
and the sucking in of my breath
are the only sounds shifting
in the dim light of the darkroom.
but not for long.
As white turns to gray,
Kate is with me.
The background of the dance studio blurred
so the focus is all on her—
legs extended in a perfect, soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle,
my forever-best friend.
In the Hallway, After Last Bell
The word bursts from my mouth
at the same moment my fingers poke
into each side of her from behind,
and Kate’s books drop with a thud.
She whips around in an attempt
to elbow her attacker,
but I’m prepared and jump back
out of her way.
“Liz!” she yelps , then laughs,
waving her hands at my face,
before we reach to re-gather her books
around and between Friday’s fleeing feet.
“Just trying to keep you on your toes,” I say,
touching her shoulder until it relaxes,
until she gives me a forgiving grin.
“I’m on my toes enough,” she says,
and I can’t help but smile
at this pointed comeback
from the Mistress of Modern Dance.
“I developed a shot of you dancing today.”
Kate shakes her head.
“I can’t believe I let you take
pictures of me sweating.”
But I tell her my begging paid off,
that this shot is going in my portfolio.
She zips her books
into the safety of her backpack,
scrunches her forehead,
and says I may want to rethink that—
that she would hate for her ugly self
to be the reason I don’t get into art school.
I take in her perfect, china-doll complexion,
look straight into her blue-green eyes,
and tell her, “Art schools now require
applicants to submit photos
of the ugliest person they can find.
So you don’t have a thing
to worry about.”
Friday Night at Salvatore’s
We’re at our favorite cheesy pizza place:
plastic-coated, red-checkered tablecloths,
Leaning Tower painted on one wall,
a vineyard, maybe Tuscany, on another.
Sal, behind the counter,
white mustache curled in handlebars,
huge belly threatening to burst
through his grease-splattered apron,
singing along to piped-in Italian music.
A walking cliché.
Amanda piles on
Parmesan cheese and hot-pepper flakes.
Dee Dee blots off extra oil with her napkin.
Kate uses a fork and knife
to cut her slice into bite-sized pieces.
By the time my three friends
are finished preparing their meals,
I’m ready for dessert.
“What time should I come by tomorrow?”
Kate asks as we leave.
“I’m staying on the Vineyard
for a few hours after work,” I tell her.
“How about seven?”
“Sounds good,” she says,
closing the door
on Sal’s serenade.
Most of the kids who work
for the Martha’s Vineyard Ferry Service,
in the parking lots, at the ticket booth,
or in the concession stands
on the boats, like me,
work during the high season.
A cool summer job.
But keeping my Saturday 8–2 shift
gives me spending money
and the chance to stay on the island
and hitch a later ferry home to Shoreview.
“See ya, Lizzie-Lou!” my father calls from the bridge
as I make my way down the ramp.
He’s just Dad to me,
but to everyone else he’s Cap.
Captain Robert Grayson,
King of the Ferry,
Noble Seaman of Nantucket Sound.
I get on my bike
and pedal right out of Vineyard Haven
until I’m winding down country roads
lined with old stone walls and grazing horses.
I lean my bike against an oak
tinted with autumn’s promise
and raise my camera to catch a shot
of a wistful woman,
gray hair in a long braid down her back,
patting sweat from her neck
with a green bandana
as she pauses atop her ride-on mower
and stares out across her big yard
at all the grass yet to be mowed.