Ode to Argentic Images

Carefully preserved shades of black and grey
suspended in albumin or gelatin,
regarded by many, for many, many years,

like these tintypes of two upright families;
mother, father, daughter, son. A negative
viewed as positive on black-lacquered steel.

Cheaper than silver daguerreotype
it’s a perfect process for instant photos
of careful poses in a fairground booth,

and these panoramic views, taken
by a Kodak Panorama 1 with moving lens,
full of details of dark, Victorian formality,

there’s an ostentatious house behind,
theirs perhaps with the cows and cliffs;
every one an interesting beautiful picture.

All with silver in yellowing protein
some blackened by sulphide, others
tinted with dyes and a fine brush.

Like these postcards of shy couples,
bawdy couples, lovers separated by war;
each tableau carefully choreographed.

Consider the inspiration,
the precision of the apparatus,
preparation of photo sensitive surfaces

and that each is imbued with the essence
of everyone who strove to produce
the images I can now hold and enjoy.

I would like to touch their clothes
feel their faces, eat their food, as, perhaps,
they would have liked to sample mine.

© Anthony Fisher November 2009