Pirene’s Fountain   Leave a comment

Lincoln's death bed

http://pirenesfountain.com/archives/issue_05/current_issue/peterson_helen.html

Tomb Painter, the first of the two poems of mine that Pirene‘s Fountain published in May of 2009, was written after a pretty horrific prompt. A friend of mine, who at the time was working for a cleaning service, had been called to clean a home after a suicide, and had taken a picture of the bed where the person had shot themselves. It was pretty gruesome, but all I could think of, looking at this picture being passed around, is the inn in Washington DC where they took Lincoln after he was shot, across from the theater, and how, as an eighth grader, it had deeply affected me, walking around the bed, seeing the pillow with its faint brown stain.

I thought about this weird connection, how a person might fit in both places, how one place could lead to another. It lead me to images of Lincoln, his death mask, which lead me to the death masks and photographs of other dead persons, photographed in their coffins. I thought about the person behind the camera, was it a relative, a professional brought in, an employee of the funeral home? What about crime scenes, suicides, who dreams of being a photographer of the dead, as opposed to babies and weddings and school children?

The result of all of these threads, after free writing, sketching out a character, cutting and pasting, was the poem Tomb Painter.

What intrigues you? Have you seen a photograph, read a poem or short story, that reminded you of something else? Explore the threads that bind them together in your mind, see what other associations you can make from them. Create a story or poem of your own, using these threads.

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