The Day of Disappearance

The Day of Disappearance
for Shell

Everything that moves
disappears, as I learned once
photographing my brother rowing
our green jon boat against

a winter sky. From each end,
we pushed out through spiked rushes
and button-bushes in low light.
Holding the shutter open

on “bulb” and the camera lens
fixed on my backlit brother,
I recorded on a single
frame our time-lapse glide

to the lake’s center, thinking:
this is how we see the still-life
of time, how we know the pale
secrets of motion and light.

Later, in the prints, his thick
arms are gone where they moved
the most, the paddle blurs
into a brown ghost of wood

dipped in the pond’s silver plane,
surface water shines like winter
clouds through his already
transparent body—but,

then again, this is how we go:
first, the arms and legs in motion,
fading; the trunk luminous
like photos overexposed;

and, finally, the whelming
flood of cold water pouring
straight through the empty
spaces of bone and heart.


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