Home > From Swerve to Bend > A Scene Imagined from a Photograph

A Scene Imagined from a Photograph

A frozen frame.

A tree with an amputated limb. Thick limb stump protruding like a pig’s snout. The tree truncated by the frame holding the black and white, almost sepia, photograph. Old men seated in an imperfect semi-circle before an old tree in an old courtyard in an old country. An Italian courtyard.

The man wearing a cap, sitting somewhat apart, with a clear view of the others, had gestured just as the shutter tripped. Talking. Holding court. Three men, one of them balding, watch with solemn expressions. Another in glasses reads a paper. Two others, partially obscured, stare off into the distance in opposite directions. A lone smoker, hair disheveled, cigarette drooping from fingers held between his legs, a plaid jacket draped over his shoulders, head low.

Seven men frozen in time. The speaker’s words long dispersed and long forgotten. A fleeting moment in a fall afternoon, suspended as if awaiting judgment, begging for resolution.

A discussion of politics? Harping wives? Disappointing children? Failed crops? Serious expressions. Serious matters.


A fallen comrade. Old men contemplating the end. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. A breeze has ruffled the hair of the smoker. The staring men aren’t distracted, they look away to look within. The reader studies, once again, the obituary. The speaking man is a leader. Admired. An intellectual. A citizen-philosopher who once had dreams and designs. Now he comforts his friends and explains. As best he can. And they believe. They have always believed. Except for one. The balding man holds a piece of fruit in his hand. He is the lone skeptic. A doubter. The envious one.

In the autumn of the year. In the late autumn of lives with winter on the horizon, the chill already in the air, men sit in front of a dead tree with the cold and the dark looming.


Categories: From Swerve to Bend
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