Notes on an Early Photograph of Diane and Allan Arbus

Notes on an Early Photograph of Diane and Allan Arbus
by Amy Sailer

“A photograph is a secret about a secret.  The more it tells you the less you know.” –Diane Arbus

The black
Of your hair
and crepe neck

lurch up
from the white:

from here

the gentle pressure
of his cheek to your temple
hands and
angles in line
glint

like metal: gold wedding bands
or silver emulsion

then: click: portrait of the couple
in their studio

Only to imprint it
(this sharp contrast)
coaxes out each morning,
each kitchen scene
you wait at the sink
elbow-deep, sleeves-drawn
fingers still reeking
of chemical baths, the dark room
where negatives drip

as you tap his cheek
his good-bye kiss
latent and radiating

out, past the grease-orange scuds and
doorman and New York sidewalks
to alleys
dead-bolt doors with nudists behind
Eddie Cormel, Jewish Giant or dwarves
each one’s warbling delicacy
warms you
collapses in

the way something raw and pink
draws into itself
finds comfort there

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