From Photograph to Poem to Free Flow

Michael V. Smith has a suite of poems in What You Can't Have that is based on black and white photographs by William Gale Gedney of "dirt-poor families in 1960's Kentucky". Smith has a sharp and keen appreciation of plot — where the story might go — and it is this turn to possibility that provides his closing moments with poignancy. Take for example the closing lines of "Play" which sums up the life faced by playing girls.

On the line: an undershirt,
a dishrag, a diaper.
The metonymy traces out a life course. If in this case the girls are assigned a trajectory destined to a drudge-like motherhood, in a poem a few pages on in the series one encounters the figure of the girl yoked to the life of the mind whose destiny is hitched to sort of escape from circumstance. "Intellect" too ends with a vision of a future. But mark the individualism of the solution.
One night her mother woke to her shadow
beyond the door frame, walking away
her daughter, the girl with ideas.
It is not as if nonconformity is being celebrated; an other path is simply being noted.

And so for day 309