Lines for Atget at Sceaux
At Sceaux, it’s 7 o’clock on a June morning in 1925.
The worn statues lining the arc of the pond’s edge
stand as sentinels—some mere headless torsos—that lead
the eye into the distance. Unseeing, their presence
still pulls our gaze to them. And the folds of their stately robes
appear to echo that slight breeze in the nearby, silhouetted pines.
The whole scene is one of beckoning gods whose names
we no longer know. Perhaps you alone knew how to pray to them.
Yet whatever really possessed you—?
An old man who lugged an outmoded, heavy
box of a camera through empty
Parisian streets at dawn as you escaped
the city’s borders for Sceaux’s paths and woods,
its tangled desuetude. We know what you recorded. It’s
there in the pictures that almost ache with pastness.
But what did you—and what should we—seek to find?