Come to Life

From Look Winter in the Face, a poetry collection published in 2015.

Come to Life

After such a long time
things changed and
The first thing I did
I threw away all the photos they gave me
and this after having spent so many
politely interested sessions
examining them
exclaiming over them
in such detail
that now I see myself
extricating myself from
occasions I never experienced
slipping out of memories
I don’t have.



“Travel Photos”, mixed media, 2003.



17 thoughts on “Come to Life

  1. You know, if I ever went on a holiday, and since 1991 I haven’t had that pleasure, I wouldn’t imagine that anyone else outside my immediate family would be remotely interested in seeing my photos. Some people assume that everything they do needs to be captured for posterity and shown to a max of people. They are riding for a fall if they think the polite gasps of awe are anything but polite. Best to know your friends, I say.

  2. I document our family life through photographs and I do compile them into albums and photobooks but I don’t ever imagine that anyone beyond myself, my husband and our kids will be that interested in them. As the family historian, I am in possession of all of the vintage and antique family photographs. I have dedicated quite a lot of detective work to determining who is who. A small number remain unidentified and likely always will. When it comes to the antique photographs, I cannot bear to part with them so they are all in a box together. When it comes to photos from the interwar period onwards, however, if I cannot identify who the people depicted are then I get rid of them. If nobody living can identify these people then they likely have no real connection to my family history. And photos of places and animals and plants instantly get chucked.

  3. Yes, it’s all those pictures of parties and outings and so on full of people who I don’t know who they are that are so frustrating. And you are right, place and animals and plants (other than our wonderful cats) – out they go. I think the root of the matter to me is – I can’t imagine anyone being that interested in me, 50 years from now, and so I feel that way about all photos – nice for a short while and a select group – then…gone!

  4. Thank you. I’m not big on photographs as you can see, at least the family photo kind of thing, and sometimes I think the world is awash in images of people who in five minutes, we won’t have any idea who they are.

  5. Yes, I love the idea of the delete button. Going through old albums takes time, photo by photo, and even beyond the idea of “who are these people” and so on, is that the photos themselves have deteriorated so much. Overall, I’m not much interested in looking back – a little goes a long way with me.

  6. Photos over the years can be overwhelming, especially considering that once they’re put away in a box it’s like they’ve were never taken. And then there are the photos of friends-no-longer-friends. What stumps me is how I can be at a second-hand store or antique shop – or especially at a garage or estate sale – and see 90 to 120 year old sepia portraits offered for pennies to a few dollars. Doesn’t someone want to retain the family history?

  7. I think of two possible explanations. Everyone has died out and there is no one left to care. Or, at some point someone did what I did and culled the collection, these being the ones let go. I always come back to the idea of reminding myself to enjoy the actual moment rather than try to document it.

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