The Story I Never Know

I have been taking sky portraits for over two years now. It developed out of an eerie experience I had once while on the train to work.

I suddenly AWOKE. I suddenly found myself on the train, surrounded by others on their morning routes. I had no memory of rising out of bed, my morning toilet, dressing, leaving my home, or waiting for the train. It terrified me. What had become of all my lost time? And where was I in those spans? Who was I now without that person of those times lost? I felt intermittent. Was this dangerous? Perhaps so. It troubled me.

I realized I needed a mindful practice. Something to sweep me out of the default zero-grade attention that our banal daily activities lull us into. I needed something I could do regularly no matter where I was. And so my eyes turned skyward.

As a child I used to love cloud watching. I have a distinct, visceral body memory of me laying in the grass out front of the house where I grew up. I recall the dry crackle the grass made in my ears, the slight cool dampness of it pressed into my back. The way the clouds tumbled their way across the sky, eating each other.

When I was living in Pittsburgh, I was agog at how close the sky felt. It hung just over me. Perilous.

Back here in Philadelphia, it feels tamed by the lurking wild abandonment of so many of the streets near where I live.

I’m struck by a certain mode of day. I’m struck by the preciousness of that constantly evasive terrain–sky so fleet and stern. I want to say it.


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