Before Ansel Adams Beatified Black and White

Before Ansel Adams
Beatified Black and White

On day brother took a picture
of laundry hanging on the line
and Daddy called it wasting film.
Brother called it art and told me
about Momma’s backside framed
in her black skirt. How broad
her shoulders seemed in striped
blouse, arms raised almost to
the line, fingers sprouting
clothespins the way she always
wove them in and out to save
bending up and down to the basket.
How the big bows of white apron
almost pinched her waist. Brother said
as how you could see the clothes, and
seeing, smell freshness on the wind.
Feel sundown’s cool on your cheek
the way the towels felt gathered in
of an evening, or the spot of warmth
caught on an overall’s button. There
were lines and shapes drawn forever
on the sky, he said, and pointed out
the squares of washrags, long runners
from the dressing tables, all embroidery
and lace; triangles hung by points—
Lizzy’s from her waitressing—the maze
of lines dangling from Momma’s corsets,
and her scolding really bad for that,
but yet keeping the picture tucked away,
never sure about the black and white
of art and brother being dead
before he’d made his mark.