Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Holding On

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  In the middle of October I returned to  Lonaconing, Maryland, and the silk mill where the past clings like dust.  I was joined by two friends from the first trip and three friends from Connecticut, and we photographed one afternoon and the next morning, four hours each shoot.

Holding on: The mill is holding on, but not quite.  Though it has been under six months since we photographed the silk mill last, the building was in noticeably worse condition. Where armies of buckets caught drips, the roof has begun to fail and temporary posts have been inserted to support what's left of the roof.  There must have been a mess to clean, but you can't clean antiques. The spinning machines are still in place but missing beneath them is the clutter and the patina of age. It is as if someone had just dragged a damp sponge across a picture, wiped away decades, smudged dusty memories. More importantly, the fix is short term. The factory is letting go, though we could still almost hear the gossip and  footstaps in the old stair. and try to turn whispers to photographs.

Winding & Twisting

But for the bobbin boy
and the machinist,
on the third floor
the winders were all women.
That's just the way it was.

For fifty years
river of steps
up and down
and fifty more
when the stairs creaked

though no one passed,
- shoes and umbrellas
on the third floor,
and the lift stuck in the middle.

no reeling or coning there,
by the steamers,
nor the men downstairs 
through the night,


Ginnie said...

I can just imagine this photo op, Ted. OMG. And what an incredible POV for these whispering stairs!

Emery Roth said...

I'm not sure why it all worked, but the shot was a vertical that I stretched into a square, and everything looks right.