4 pictures taken by the water, 1940's

The Allure of the Waterfront Photo Op


Above: Allure of the waterfront, early 1940’s, single digital image. Photo of 4 prints.


Why do we inevitably want to have our picture taken by the water? I looked for clues online and discovered May Swenson’s evocative poem “Water Picture.” Read it below.

4 pictures taken by the water, 1940's


Water Picture

May Swenson, 1913 – 1989
In the pond in the park 
all things are doubled:
Long buildings hang and 
wriggle gently. Chimneys 
are bent legs bouncing 
on clouds below. A flag 
wags like a fishhook 
down there in the sky.

The arched stone bridge 
is an eye, with underlid 
in the water. In its lens 
dip crinkled heads with hats 
that don't fall off. Dogs go by, 
barking on their backs. 
A baby, taken to feed the 
ducks, dangles upside-down, 
a pink balloon for a buoy.

Treetops deploy a haze of 
cherry bloom for roots, 
where birds coast belly-up 
in the glass bowl of a hill; 
from its bottom a bunch 
of peanut-munching children 
is suspended by their 
sneakers, waveringly.

A swan, with twin necks 
forming the figure 3, 
steers between two dimpled 
towers doubled. Fondly 
hissing, she kisses herself, 
and all the scene is troubled:
water-windows splinter, 
tree-limbs tangle, the bridge 
folds like a fan.


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