By Ben |

I wrote this poem in 1997 after my summer internship at Great Lakes Free-Net. My choice of faculty advisor for the internship was not available, so I got paired with a sociology professor, who told me he'd expect me to write a sociology paper about my experience. I'd only had an intro class in the subject and did what I thought I was supposed to do. It was a disaster. One of my classmates in the poetry class said that what I'd done was anthropology, not sociology, so I changed the title.


"I'm not sure you see the big picture," she said.

I selected my subjects, arrived as a stranger,
Cradled my camera and surveyed the scene,
Wanting to mingle but destined to capture
Their images flattened on film, nothing more.
There were people in groups, chattering loudly,
Or standing alone, sulking in silence.
They moved, interacted, threw punches, threw kisses,
Defying my efforts to render them flat.
I watched from my viewfinder, anxiously seeking
The best angle, right angle, my angle.
Click!  It was captured.  I said my goodbyes.

Rushed to my home and developed the film.
Not the world's best, but it had to suffice.
I touched it up, airbrushed, polished, refined it
(Covering features I didn't remember),
Then blew it up huge 'till it covered a wall.
At this magnification, no blemish was hidden
(At least not the ones that I wanted to show).
"Honesty," thought I, "The truth is revealed."
Excited to share, I invited a subject
Whose image was central... though not complimentary.

She turns from the photo, defensive, offended.
"You never did see the big picture," she says.