Today is missing an hour.
We’ve sprung ahead. With my phone’s camera I captured sunrise on this deficient day. It featured an almost fully saturated sky, with just a flickering sliver of pure white light at the far left.
My husband Jim’s camera equipment occupies the drawers of an antique pine chest which has wended its way to me from my mother’s childhood home on Cape Cod. The four deep drawers have slatted bottoms which do not fit completely together, sharp triangular slivers affording a peek at what lies beneath.
I don’t know what the lenses do. I am flummoxed by whether any of the random chargers attaches to any of the photographic gizmos in those drawers, which still hold a hint of musty salted air. I don’t even know if all these bits and pieces, these cool black matte metal cylinders and scored metal gadgets, necessarily even belong to his cameras, but I hoped one of our children–versed by her father in the art and heart of photography–would want to use them someday.
Jim loved photography. On my very last walk-through before moving from the home he loved, the last thing I found, face down in the attic under tons of familial flotsam that had been packed away, was a black and white print he had developed of a boardwalk meandering through a Massachusetts marsh to an unseen point in the distance in a place called Land’s End.
One of my daughters is on spring break. It warmed my heart when she first began to pick up a camera again after her father was no longer there to pick up his and accompany her outside.
This time she began going through the chest drawers in search of a tripod. She found assorted pieces of no fewer than three different tripods, but all her engineering permutations still yielded one small missing piece: a single rectangular fixture, likely lined in cork, needed to screw atop the legs and hold her camera steady.
Without it, I imagine the camera shudders just a bit, the way I do at physical therapy as I stand on my compromised leg, wavering like a graceless flamingo, trying to build back my muscle strength and undo the damage wrought by my sudden break. My leg will heal, but there will always be a tiny gap where the bones fractured and never again will be joined as one. With dedicated work on strengthening all that surrounds the fissure, the weakness may lie dormant, revealing itself only in rare and unpredictable faltering.
“A false move here, a stumble there
A box of letters and a lock of hair
That’s all that’s left when I turn out the light
I count the missing pieces every night.”
~ John Hiatt
Almost five years after Jim died, everything–down to its innermost parts–remains, to a varying degree, incomplete.