December 1, 2021

Limitations

I first discovered the limits of photography
in 2003, after climbing Longs Peak
in Colorado. Elevation 14,259’.
A “Fourteener,” as they say. 
 
I scrambled over boulders
and through a notch in the ridge
known as The Keyhole,
emerging on the other side to 
dizzying emptiness
a drop-off of a thousand, 
two thousand feet. I swayed, 
steadied myself with a hand
against the granite, as I stood 
at the edge, forgetting to breathe
first falling, then flying
over the valley below
completely alone,
yet one with the wind.

After I got the photos developed
I stared into that flattened 
two-dimensional version of sublimity
and sank. Ruined.
 
The experience I’d tried to capture
just wasn’t there.
 
I think I’m beginning 
to see poetry like this.
 
It’s like saying, “I love you,”
for the first time.
 
Or later, when you say, “It’s over.”
But there’s a lot missing,
outside the frame.

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