Beyond 1000 Words
Make up a story . . . Tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.
– Toni Morrison
An image is worth the story it inspires in us.
I come from a family of trigger-happy folks, as I like to put it. Worn boxes and old photo albums, and now hard drives, are filled with pictures from every imaginable gathering, travel, and experience, both shared and individual. Of course, when I look at them, I can see the stories, conjure up the narrative surrounding each snapshot. In one that hangs on the wall of my mom’s home office, a lamp with a dated, earth-toned shade glows beside me as I lean against my mammaw (that’s southern for grandma, for those of you who may not know), a picture book in her hand held between us as she reads. Her voice was like the achingly sweet and smooth fudge she made every year at Christmas.
“Jenny-Ree,” she’d say, “What’re you fixin’ to do?”
“Read me a book, Mammaw!”
As a historical fiction writer, images are paramount to my writing process. Though I may not have been present at the click of the shutter, though I may have no clue as to who is in the photo, why it was taken, or the context surrounding the moment captured, each image holds a story to be told. My job as a writer isn’t necessarily to tell the story of the picture, but instead, to “make up a story,” to reveal “belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.” It is through this that I find the Truth of the image, everything it holds, “in the dark places and in the light.”
Many thanks to Meaghen Porte, Coordinator of Student Services at Oregon College of Art and Craft, for the above image and all the stories it has to tell.
Meaghen Nan Porte
July Eighth’s Morning | 2011
Black and White, LUMIX DMC-LX5