Just take the picture

December 15, 2014

At the bus stop we wait for no. 43 back to Newark. I am taking pictures and my memory card is going to blink ‘full’ in a bit. I have pictures of beautiful black people from across Wilmington. Some of these images will need a little editing for white balance- especially this one with a white man with long unkempt dreadlocks right in the middle of the frame- he looks like a stain in this sea of blackness. A bleached stain. I am not sure how to fix this. It is a beautiful image. He photographes well; high cheekbones, long face, blonde beard and, in an unbuttoned white shirt. My mind undresses him. Clothes him in a robe. I make him Jesus. For a minute he is picture perfect. He is back with the dreadlocks. A part of me wishes he were black. He is not. This must be edited.


“Please take a picture of me. I do not have long to live”, a voice reaches out from a bench right behind me.


“If I take a picture of you how will you get it from me? You don’t even know me.” I say with evident uncertainty.


“Just take the picture. You never know.”


“Alright. If I take the picture can I sit by you on your bench?”


Jeff laughs. He laughs till he tears. He used to be a beautiful man. He could be beautiful. He laughs louder. The kind of laughter that has taught itself to perch on faces whose contours fears and tears will dig furrows into, about tomorrow. He is not tearing anymore. He is crying. Jeff’s tears flow into trumpets and drums once beaten in Haiti and Guyana. Jazz playing. I want to ask him if he is crying. I don’t. We cry over a shared plate of chips. We are laughing again. We sit listening in on winds that carry the sounds of Jazz from the park. His wife left. Immediately, he says. Almost immediately.


Sometimes a picture is all one has.



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