This Minute is a connected whole, in which the verse is driven by strong intellectual excitement, evident in the energetic movement of the lines and in a vocabulary that switches easily from the colloquial to the exact. There is an urgent voice, felt close at hand. And there is a skill in handling and matching the size of a poem to its subject that makes each invigorating to read—one arrives slightly out of breath. These poems convey a “metaphysical” meaning as well as a bodily intimacy. They are luminous, discovering rather than manufacturing their metaphors as the most exact way of speaking.
The Early History of Photography
The first photographer’s sister spent the summer watching the leaf-imprints disappear. Just like life, she wrote to him, but a little slower; like a chemical recipe for gratitude.
Shhh, the first photographer said, hovering over the silver salts arrayed like listening devices. Don’t let the sun know what we’re doing. This is a god we can capture and he’ll never know it, never miss these little fistfuls of glitter, dumbed down.
Dear sister, you must know the miracle is in the stoppage. Motion is cheap and plentiful; standing still is what costs and costs.
Jean Gallagher is Associate Professor of English at Polytechnic University in New York City. She is the author of The World Wars Through the Female Gaze.
To read a sample of Jean Gallagher’s poetry, visit www.poetsoutloud.com
Gallagher, Jean, "This Minute" (2005). Poetry. Paper 3.