One Single Impression: Spectral

Laugh lines
Trace your eyes and mouth,
Suggest a nose and chin.
Diamonds in the dark spaces
Deep as the cosmos tell me
About your eyes.
In what remains of you
In this photo
That has been photocopied
Passed around
And left in the rain
You are present.
So many years ago
You slipped through
The photographer's eye,
Through the lens of the camera,
Onto the paper
That became the print
And the photocopy
That flutters in the breeze.
Your spirit passed into that image that
Claimed you and kept you
As the work of art you are.

The breeze will carry
Your smile into the day
And the day will be bright.

In 2003, I visited Ground Zero and spent quite a lot of time looking at the tributes placed on the fence around St. Paul's Chapel. I recall a photo of a father who perished in that horror. His photo had been copied onto green paper that offered a brief tribute. The paper had faded in the two years it had been there, but the smile remained. The man was visible. His smile haunts he me yet. I find this is a strange phenomenon with my own photos that have faded. Though the features are spectral, the spirit of the smile remains. It is how I know the story of the images; it is how they tell their own story.

One Single Impression


  1. I think our "essence" lives for ever and ever, especially towards the people we deeply loved and have loved us.

  2. I love your last three lines of the poem, and the story of the man's smile that has stayed with you all these years. Thank you for sharing this lovely piece; it's a beautiful one to get us through these last dark winter days this year!

  3. So it seems true: the camera can capture the human soul.
    I don't know. we all got digital cameras now but I miss my old Canon A1.
    it just doesn't feel the same anymore :(

  4. The reason we all love photographs, sketches, painting, sculptures and all other forms of art - We mere mortals are desperate to remember our loved ones until we are reunited once more. Beautifully done.

  5. I guess that capture is why some people don't want their picture taken. It feels like you grab part of them and they can't get it back.

  6. You captured the essence of photography..

    you clutch the vacuum

  7. Lovely, bittersweet, dark and light - my favorite feelings you express so well.

    Paint me a blue sky

  8. Anonymous8:54 AM

    You have certainly captured something of your experience at ground zero in the poem.

  9. wow, another beautiful haunting poem...looked for the photo and realized you don't need it-you captured the image beautifully in your verses. there was one ethnic group that believed you took their spirit away when you photographed them-might have been an Indian tribe? I was thinking of the woman killed in Buffalo plane crash whose husband died in 9/11-what a reunion they had. I feel their spirits of those who die are very close to us here on earth if we only realized. I have felt my deceased grandma's protection and love many times and wrote a poem about her as my son's guardian angel.

  10. this is an emotional post. really affecting. it will be like, preserved forever.

  11. spiritual and spectral both ~ and the use of photo-static ~ yet not static ~ is exceptional imagery

  12. And I love how that memory, that photo lives on through your beautiful words...
    I enjoyed this.

    They should never be forgotten.

  13. Spectral Sandy, really..
    and I could get a glimpse of the person that he is...

    and a delight to read your words...
    personally, to me, words are more memorable than pictures. :)

    A delight to read this...


  14. I think it is very important to care for photos of our family members because the photo speaks long after the voice is silent.

    This is a tender post.

  15. How incredibly sad but beautifully written Sandy. Lovely tribute. Hugs, G

  16. Those are beautiful words.

  17. Anonymous4:13 PM

    ..a sobering thought,a dignified remembrance..many thanks..

  18. Beautiful words depicting a timeless image. You really make me see it. Nicely done!

  19. Beautiful story, beautiful tribute.

  20. Anonymous8:12 PM

    Haunting impression, but a beautiful tribute to that man and his family who obviously loved him.

    Nicely written poem!

  21. Anonymous8:24 PM

    It's the mouth, the eyes that haunt us most. Closing my eyes and thinking of a long-gone face...I believe it is the smile I see, the laugh reaching up into the eyes. It doesn't fade.

    A beautiful poem, Sandy.

  22. Ground zero has left scars so deep. It is hard to imagine life everlasting without feeling the emtionally horror.
    Love your flag beautiful in the dim light.

  23. The ending lines are so good and beautiful. Your record of details of such a photo is amazing.

  24. The time is coming up to remember those in that photo of which you speak...

  25. Moving story. And yes, some part of the soul acts on the paper that receives the picture.

  26. Oh, this was such a beautiful and poignant poem...I always feel an extra 'tug' when I look at old photos of my family members who have passed. There's an extra energy there that can't be denied. Your story about Ground Zero was very touching...

  27. Anonymous9:19 AM

    Wow! Very thought provoking!

  28. 'Your spirit passed into that image that
    Claimed you and kept you
    As the work of art you are'

    Really love that. Wonderful poem, Sandy.

  29. What a poignant poem! It gave me goosebumps up and down my spine and arms! I only wish that it could be framed and placed besides that photo on green faded paper. I would love to go see the memorial for 9 11 but probably will never get to do so; thus, I see it through the eyes of your poem and others. Thank you!

  30. Anonymous3:28 PM

    beautiful bittersweet rememberance... you caught it just so.. like u sed a snapshot...

  31. Hi Sandy--
    This moved my heart--especially when I knew the story that went with it. Thank you--thank you for remembering.

    'We're never dead until we're forgotten'--Jewish wisdom

  32. Awesome tribute. Sometimes, I think we are like holographs - ...

  33. Anonymous7:56 AM

    Sandy-loved the poem and the thought behind it. Pictures do somehow capture part of the spirit of the person-I think thats part of the reason folks are mesmerized by photos of their ancestors. Even though they never knew them-somehow they can catch a glimpse of them through the photo.

  34. Anonymous9:44 PM

    your spirit passed into that image - great line - wow - so powerful.

  35. What a beautiful, haunting poem, Sandy. I love this....

    Peace - D

  36. I love your post and story to along with it- excellently written poem! I love visitng your blog- there is so much to read and see.

  37. Beautiful post. Everytime I see a movie or a picture that has the twin towers in it I can't help but think, here, they're all alive...nothing has happened yet...and wish I could go back in time to change it...but then I would be time traveling forever to change so much evil that I'd never have the chance to live.
    Lovely work here, Sandy!

  38. OMG! You made Post of the Day mention! Congrats to you my friend!
    Sandi (again, lol)

  39. Anonymous11:57 AM

    Moving, tender, haunting...Thanks for sharing it.

    Congrats on David's POtD!

  40. Very moving and why I love photography. Well done!

  41. Hi ~ Thoughtful, reflective writing. Thank you for making me stop and think.


Post a Comment

Thanks for being here.