What Indigenous Peoples Knew About Photography

This poem has been rattling around in my head for years, I add a line every time I have my picture taken!

What Indigenous Peoples Knew About Photography

Perhaps the Lakota knew their attire
would have no meaning to the settlers
who thrust calico at them,
thin cotton which didn’t
keep the cold out, easily tore
and couldn’t be beaded or painted.
Likely, they were afraid feathers
would be deemed merely quaint
rather than a covenant between
eagle, raven, owl and crow.

Ceremonial clothing can look juvenile
when worn away from the fire ring,
as can Crocs when spotted at the grocery store.
The middle aged man, whose feet
are unleashed sans dress shoes,
is on the weekends,
the playful god, Pan,
padding in the garden and garage.

There is a photo of me take recently
in bright patterned leggings, 
on top of a mountain I’d just hiked,
I felt seventeen svelte and strong.
I had hoped the picture,
one of the few I allowed my beloved,
would capture the make out session
we had before hitting the trail,
surely my figure was half worthy of pixels,
he had grabbed it with enthusiasm in a thicket.
Peeking at his phone, I am aghast,
my bosom looks matronly,
is that cellulite on my arm?

After my wedding day,
the photos displayed a modicum of love,
but also that my dress rode up in the back,
my hair didn’t have the luster I’d imagined.
I could not find documented that by Aphrodite herself,
my silk garment had been pressed,
my curls had been set.

If anyone is to behold me after I am gone,
I would most want them to know
my body was a cross between a lemur and a butterfly
not always apparent in two squat dimensions.
My benevolence for others is not found in digital,
more often my captured countenance is set with worry.

Age-old, nor modern, shamanism
doesn’t hold still to be harnessed.
In the grocery store, no one knows I am
wearing a velvet cape and sprinkling holy water.
In jeans and a t-shirt, posed next to my son at a soccer game,
you’d never guess I am still a maiden
donning petticoats under long dresses.

Having camped for a week,
our hair is unkempt, but our souls are in order.
When we have not slept for parenting all night,
we have been infused with the Madonna,
and yet we look only schlumpy in sweatpants.

I watch with sadness,
the evolution of older women,
blonder, tanner and smoother
to combat the cruelty of the camera,
when in life they are becoming angels
with white halos, skin so lined
your fingers want to trace it.