From the time I was a very little girl I kept a picture box. It was a small box with a hinged lid that opened with a quiet squeak. It was papered with tiny pink calico roses with 2 delicate green leaves on either side of each rose. It held glossy papers colored with snapshots of faces, places memories, anticipations and imaginings.
And it existed only in my mind.
It hovered in the stillness above my bed. And every night after kisses and prayers and hugs, I called out to my momma in the kitchen and played the “What-can-I-think-about?” game.
After her words had faded and I was left in the quiet alone, I reached up in the stillness to lift the lid on my picture box. I closed my eyes and studied the pictures that awaited me, the images that would fuel my imaginings in that half-light before dark, before sleep.
Gigantic dream-roses woven in shades of wool,
concave turquoise linoleum, canopies of apple trees,
twig of cherry blossom standing tall against
golden green prairie grass,
rails nailed to the earth hot and smooth above red and dry, talking wires strung high...quivering, mapping the fleeing rays,
oak cathedral above damp red clay crypt.
Hands worn and wrinkled cuffed by brown satin and black lace... cameo at her throat,
Brown paper bags stuffed with peas
waiting to be freed of their pods,
aluminum pans in laps cradling nut meats,
black cast iron on the stove.
Water falling over rocks...spilling over snails,
trees like sentinels along barbed wire,
grass blades as thick as butter knives.
These are the images I have captured all my life, light-painted visions of complex and incomplete moments, the in-between, poised with possibility, steeped in wonder, diffused in grace. The only problem was, once they were captured, I could only see them with my eyes closed.
All that grit and humor and beauty and awkwardness and grace -locked behind my very own eyelids.
In 1977 I headed off to Camp Nunny-Cha-Ha armed with the key that would begin to open that picture box in my mind so i could share them with others ….a hand-me-down Kodak Instamatic.
And so it began.
Now you’re invited to view the picture box with me.
I hope you like what you see.