from Pied Beauty by Alexandra Huddleston & Robert Huddleston


A Process Note

“Cold Pastoral” and “July 14, a bit of shade becomes a blessing” were not created as a pair. Rather the affinity was uncovered, or subliminally revealed, like “the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a operating table.” The image is one of many that Alexandra, a professional photographer, captured on a trek across France, along the medieval pilgrimage route known as the Via Podiensis. Knowing the theme of her work, and having seen some but not all of the images, I sent her a group of poems that also dwell on history and landscape. The photographs weren’t chosen to illustrate the poems, or vice-versa. Neither of us had foreknowledge of the result. But, in the end, after several email exchanges, a sequence emerged. The poems and photographs seemed to pair off like dance partners. We see the relationship of text and image here as complimentary yet also somewhat antagonistic: an interlocking, refractive sequence, which, like dissonant music, harmonizes but never completely resolves.



Cold Pastoral

          le décor était un faux printemps
          —Jean Follain

Outside all the roofs are covered in snow
the branches sway mildly in the light
in the red shadow of houses
with broken casements
the street spreads like a delta in flood.
What were we brought here for
if not to understand
how the mind confers
a shape on the random
and nothing except the sky
is without intent.




July 14, A bit of shade becomes a blessing


Alexandra Huddleston is an acclaimed photographer whose work features in the collections of the British Library, the Smithsonian, and the Library of Congress.

Robert Huddleston is a poet, translator, and critic whose work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in American Literary Review, Boston Review, Colorado Review, and Narrative Magazine.