Going to See Sally Mann

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Drawn to light,
A parental moth looking for brightness
In an otherwise dark month
Where rain and wind conspired
To blur nerve’s sharpness by
Ratcheting the tension
Of a life stuck in a routine,
Bored by the same old roads,
Cookie cutter neighborhoods,
All too familiar faces, and
Inspiration locked away in the
Gotta-go-to-sleep closet.

The light was in Washington,
A place that has lately been part of the angst animation
That life has drawn daily.
The streets were empty and the company lively,
For my daughter braved the winds
Despite a cold brought on by the sneaky look at me
Kids who get the look and then sneeze
The projectile germs pre-service teachers must deal with.

We wandered the circles of the Hirshhorn
Where the activist nature of my personality
Showed its authentic self in my youngest’s siding
With the Guerilla Girls and their protest of publications putting
Men out there without a care for equal rights or even sort of equal rights.
We mosied over to the National Gallery,
Putting up with old masters and mocking the furniture
Until we finally saw her light,

The blur, the darkness, and all that is cool when planning
Meets the unpredictability of time, chemistry, and vision;
Sally Mann’s photography, beautiful, haunting, imperfect,
Kind of like my relationship with my kid,
Brought out feelings that have been lost for too long,
Seeing, risking, imagining, documenting
All parts of a creative’s engine, part of a parent’s toolbox,
Each needing to be charged with the soulful touch
Softly reaching out from the gallery walls.
We saw more;
Sugimoto, whose out of focus way brings clarity to mental noise,
Jasper’s shapes, suggesting structure in a chaotic world,
Georgia’s suggestion, Jackson’s overt sexuality, and a treat,
My old baseball coach’s father right there next to Picasso
Bringing to mind the set up to an unwritten joke,
“Two cubists walk into a gallery…”
Food truck lunch, over-priced Harbor coffee,
Some heavy conversation to hopefully exhaust long-simmering fires,
And a quiet ride home,
Her sleeping
And me thankful to have her along.

Truth is, she’s a lot like me,
Stubborn, opinionated, trusting, unforgiving, and
Prone to visiting art galleries alone,
But it’s nice to have a partner who can share moments
Like the joy of seeing huge dogs walking
Or sharing observations on how a father
Doesn’t portray stereotypical gym teacher traits,
Or maybe the way we feel the cosmic energies, mine random occurrences,
Hers, punishments from the unseen, maybe karma or comeuppance,
To shake a wagging tongue into a more proper way of talking.

I don’t know.

The day was something special,
My rambling, so much like Sally’s photos,
Pictures of time, maybe a little fuzzy,
Sometimes a product of manipulation,
Sometimes an unexpected gift from the angels,
But always full of the right light
Like a daughter and father just hanging together.

3 thoughts on “Going to See Sally Mann”

  1. Hi Chris, a remarkable day on the go etched into verse. I love it! Your words parallel the name of Sally Mann’s Exhibit, “A Thousand Crossings”, with the junctions and the journeys we take along the way. It sounds like it was a terrific day filled with art and the art of being. Have a wonderful evening and a good week ahead.~ Mia

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