Here is where your breath goes
to store the warm atmosphere it’s drawn.
The lobby arching its copper back like my aging father
—imagined gold and flecked with white—
between the sun and the milling ghosts.

This frame is our darkroom, how it sighed out timelessly,
bowed and velvet oblivion embracing
the snug bodies whirring within.
Or maybe it’s where the film nests in the camera
we made from a tin can,
and pressed with black fabric, thumbprints in superglue.

We’ve been here, this time warp,
where the gilt scrolls curl into each other.
Here we’ll live a while longer
under obscured gray lamps,
among the faceless blurs whose paths are charted
by developer fingertips across fresh prints.

This is our last summer, dad, both motionless
and teeming.
Dark little universe, like a blink against the sun.

In response to artwork by:
Jay Dusard
Lobby, Gadsden Hotel, Douglas, Arizona, 2014

Archival pigment print
Overall: 22” x 25.5”; Framed: 23” x 27” x 1”
Lent by the artist


 “Having recently moved back home to Arizona, and thus confronting the accompanying memories of my late father, the whole experience of combing the museum evoked the same nostalgia echoed by the specific photograph I chose. Jay Dusard’s photo of an old Arizona hotel lobby is a ghostly exposure taken by pinhole camera. The process used in pinhole photos usually renders them warped and monochromatic—this was a medium my dad and I explored together. With the nostalgic combination of Dusard’s craft and the old Arizona melancholy of his subject matter, writing was easy. I listed the photo’s attributes in relation to the memories they conjured, and outlined their connections. After this, the poem progressed almost independently.”

Mackenzie Brennan is a freshly minted college graduate, with a degree in Creative Writing and Political Science from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island. As a native Arizonan, she is thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Phoenix Art Museum and local artists. She’s been devoting some time to writing before retreating back to the safety of academia next August, when she begins law school. She’s beyond excited to be introducing herself in this, her first publication!

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