A photograph is not a ghost or past by Chad Parmenter

Read “The Musing Gaze: a conversation with Chad Parmenter” here.

A photograph is not a ghost or past. It is its own. And you are yours now—or only ever were.

Now, at the hour when the bats are hunting above your house—how many thousand miles from mine—I find my poor, devoted Flora stored with the rest of the negatives. In this one, she’s a sort of ghost, a memory of Eve—pale hand at a pale apple, made like her of mist-thick light. The leaves above her look like her eyes, blurred and wind-burdened.

I see my new Eve, Charis, her paradise the studio, her apple missing a white bite—in the finished print, it will hold the same, strained radiance of shade in a negative, of palladium paper before the picture harvested its darknesses.


Chad Parmenter’s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, and Harvard Review. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Niagara University.