Photogenic Drawing, CA. 1839

Alison Barnes

View this alone in the dark, and be brief.
Unwrap it from the black paper in your bedroom with the curtains closed.

     My hands did not render the leaves.
     I laid the cutting on the chemical-soaked paper.
     I placed them together in the sun.

Hold its edges, and remember how our history was born in the August light
when we knew, but resisted, that you must remain off-limits, touched only by the sun.

          I watched until the exposure was done,
          until the paper turned a deep shade of brown
          and the imprint of the leaves burned red
          with the autumn between us.

If you hear a knock on your bedroom door, if someone senses our secret,
open the curtains, hold the paper to the sun, and the leaves will fade.

          I will send you more leaves, more details
          from this language growing around me,
          this correspondence with the sun.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro
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ALISON BARNES earned her MFA in writing from UNC Greensboro this year. She also has an MFA in photography from Syracuse University and has exhibited at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, MA, the Cast Iron Gallery in NYC’s SoHo district, and the Tercera Bienal at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santiago, Chile.