PHOTOGRAPH

Shallow stories?

Those don’t exist. Under

Every lily pad on the surface,

The long stem of the rest of the story

Is being told in a wavering green light.

And below that where the surface

Is a glimmer of bright above,

The real story pushes up out of the muck,

Sends tendrils up,

Seeking that far light.

Compose the frame

For what you love.

NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month 2020 was back in April, but someone on social said that month barely existed for us and resurrected National Write a Poem a Day for October 2020, which suits my mood just fine. I’m not doing a poem a day (I make photographs every day), but I’m definitely focusing on it more to get my chops back, if I can.

In the case of this little poem, I thought to combine photos, voice, and words to make a little videoito. I might have preferred getting out my GoPro to capture underwater footage, going down, down, down a lily stem through that green glass world, but it’s getting cold now and I hate getting my toes all yucky in the muddy biome of the pond bottom. I think of that line from Sidney Lanier’s “The Marvelous Marshes of Glynn”:

And I would I could know what swimmeth below when the tide comes in ...

And maybe a final word about the idea that there are no shallow stories. The river of media flows by us all at a tremendous rate, and among the garbage and the flowers are voices decrying it all, the deepfake of the world. It isn’t that there aren’t important critiques to be made, but first I must find a place of quietude to stand and then to focus. You know that Biblical quote, “As for me and my house, we will serve…I will serve… that deeper story.” Down the lily stem I go.

This image emphasizes in the text the final line of the poem, “There are no shallow stories.”
“ When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ― Rumi

Sandy Brown Jensen

I am a retired writing instructor and faculty tech specialist from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I still teach and am also a photographer, poet, blogger and digital storyteller (short videos).

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3 comments

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  • Thanks, Sandy, for both the video and the written commentary. It was significant in a conversation I am having currently. The lily pad is such a good symbol of parts of a story…

  • Highlighting the beauty and bounty of Nature through art impresses it ever more deeply into our collective memory and heart. In this era of human-caused destruction and extinction, art that witnesses and documents what remains, is an essential form of preservation work and is never shallow.

  • Gorgeous! “The long stem of the rest of the story” drives everything, doesn’t it? Composing the frame may leave out the long stem seen in wavy green light, but there would be nothing to frame without it. Thank you.

Sandy Brown Jensen

I am a retired writing instructor and faculty tech specialist from Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I still teach and am also a photographer, poet, blogger and digital storyteller (short videos).

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