Camerawoman: Solid Ground, Birmingham AL

Thunderstorm with glimmering lightnings over ocean

“Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time’s relentless melt.” –Susan Sontag, On Photography

When we came home after 2 ½ years
on the battered church of the Indian Ocean
the swells of which had made me sicker than a graveyard,
I became stony, holding my flag of forfeit
once more saying never again.
I surrendered to the blue collar, blue funk
to the blue woods of a career-winter where my job
became tractors, furnaces, industrial forests, anything not involving
the atomic pockets of the sea.

The sea is of two minds: lover
and maniacal enemy;
the liquid languid and generous
then a rapid violent racket;
leaving me cleaving to its open freedom
but also cleaved, butchered;
so that I myself became of two minds:
at once blizzard-split, weathered, worn
yet hardened, solider having weathered every fear;

Even now, with ground always beneath feet
I am a spring blizzard, a dark brightness, a hollow tenant
filling this fixed space and I can’t not think
about the ocean, the stipple of sea salt
like hot sugar pelting skin,
sea’s briny froth like the foam of good beer
and I am a machinist cowgirl kicking off boots, buckling on
camera gear so that when I leave, I am what has departed
and also what remains behind.

Poem by Michelle McMillan-Holifield

Michelle McMillan-Holifield is a recent Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has been included in or is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review, Nelle, Stirring, The Main Street Rag, Whale Road Review and Windhover among others. She hopes you one day find her poetry tacked to a tree somewhere in the Alaskan Wild.