Perhaps in decades to come
You may look at an old photograph
Of a familiar scene from long ago
And see an image of a man
Staring back at you through time.
In that familiar place
Caught in the moment.
You might notice his stance,
His dress and demeanour
And wonder at his gaze.
What was he thinking?
It may make you wonder
About his life,
His intent and purpose.
When you look at that moment,
Forever captured in that instant,
Frozen for ever in time.
It might stimulate curiosity
As to the story behind that scene
In which that image was seized.
What thoughts were going through his mind?
Where was he going?
What life had he led?
What was this moment all about?
For than moment never existed on its own;
It was merely part of a continuum.
If you were to revisit that familiar place
There would be an empty space
Where that man once stood.
It is full of a story
That will never be told.
This poem was stimulated by my photographer friend Richard Duffy-Howard. He was talking to me about photographs taken from long ago connected to his work on the river Humber. Using the wonders of the photo processor of Lightshop he has been able to isolate individuals from the old images. Those ghostly figures stare out from those photographs. Each of them have their reasons and stories. But we will never know more than we can glean from the evidence of what we can ascertain from the image. We can infer lots from the way they look and hold themselves. Part of their story can be guessed at – but only part.
It made me think that one day in the future somebody might be looking back at an image of me – a ghost from the past – and wondering.
We are all fated to be fleeting ghosts in a changing landscape.
It made me think of the Roy Harper song Hope. What strange ghosts, strange archaeology we become. We are so fleeting.