When I started taking photos, I was surprised at what I hadn’t noticed before.
Between where I live and where I grew up, we have this attitude about there being nothing to see.We’ve made this trip so many times, we’ve seen whatever there is to see.
I showed these photos to everyone who has made this road trip over and over and over. (Two hundred and twenty-one miles with two gas stations and four junctions.)
No one knew where any of these shots came from.
(Disclaimer: All these shots were on the go, through the window of a speeding vehicle.)
When we become involved in our surroundings, we realize there is more to be seen. More to consider. This happened to me when I started to write poetry a few years ago. Now, when my ability to write poetry starts to falter I realize the reverse is true — I’ve stopped participating with my surroundings.
A few years ago I accepted a (third, weekend) job to help my kids with college tuition. The job placed me in ranch supply stores where I taught potential customers about the science behind pet food nutrition. At first I was so caught up in enzymes, ash content and labelling laws that I didn’t realize why so many customers were in the store and what their true needs were. They didn’t need to hear me talk about the benefits of animal proteins and calcium ratios. Although I no longer have this job anymore, I cannot walk into any of these stores without seeing the customers differently.
Behind the Scenes of a Holistic Nutrition Demo
The man in last week’s flannel shirt sits his Aussie
near the hamster cage, steps outside for a smoke. Too poor,
I wonder, to buy the holistic nutrition I’m selling. Still,
we visit when he returns- his dog never breaking
point. Turns out he wrote the book I wish I could write,
lives with fame many others pray for.
I’ve seen blue eyes like his before- diluted
from living above the timber line, not enough light
in winter. It’s been seven years since his wife died,
her dog has not recovered. He drives down from his mountain
ranch each Sunday so Dixie can guard the Petko hamster cage.
There’s no more sheep left in their fields. Why bother,
is the message he writes in the book he leaves for me
at the counter. The trench coat lady in the rows
of cat food needs me to reach a bag of Meow Mix.
She can’t even lift five pounds, though she’s lost
one hundred and fifty in twelve months. Now
her stomach skin reaches to her knees, weighs
her down. She opens her coat to reveal the reason
she says she’d sooner die than live anymore like this.
But what would happen to Felix, she asks? We lock eyes
in aisle five. She says mine are warm and hazel. I tell her
hers are calico. She says it hurts to laugh anymore.
Please don’t make her try.