Friday, April 26, 2013


About a poem I didn’t mean to write  “I didn’t get my roll of black and white prints,” I told the manager of CVS. Out of the twenty rolls of film I’d taken while in Israel and Crete, I’d only shot one roll of black and white. That roll was to be for competition grade photos, high contrast with vivid shades of gray. While in Crete, en route to Knossos, I loaded the 400 ASA film into my Nikon F-1 fitted with a Vivitar 28mm lens, fast at 1:2.5.

Morning light, on that overcast day, promised stunning pictures with sharply defined shadows that promised added dimensionality. While my daughter explained the history of the labyrinth and the mythical sacrifices there (I hoped they had been mythical), I’d climbed ancient rock walls for angular shots as I sought to capture the regal splendor and the vestiges of the imperial power the site revealed.

Evidence of majesty had survived in stout columns and brilliant remnants of murals; through my lens, I could imagine royalty seated on high, staring down at workers and artisans and performers. Overlooking the scenic setting was a mountainous skyline that featured a grove of ancient olive trees. Everywhere I looked were the trappings of genius, feats of engineering and design that thrilled me.

In an hour, I had taken my entire roll. To my surprise, as I was rewinding my film into its canister, I spotted a peacock, wondered whether its relatives had roosted in trees that surrounded the site. It seemed fitting that such a beautiful bird graced the area; its plumage prompted reflections of grandeur that once was.

With my exposed film tucked away securely in a zipper pocket, I left with Adam and my daughter en route to a beach on Crete’s southwest side. Although I’d promised them sunshine and calmer seas, a brooding sky and crashing waves greeted us. Cavorting in that rough ocean was impossible.

“Let’s eat!” they said, cheerfully.

Rather than join them for pizza, I hiked along the shore until I saw an ancient section of a fortress that had once guarded the harbor. Across the street from it was a local bar and restaurant.

“May I sit at that table?” I asked the owner, as I pointed to a table under an umbrella.

“Of course,” he said. Minutes later, he clamped down a waxed canvas cloth cover and told me what was left from his luncheon menu. I ordered and took pictures of waves that crashed into the thick harbor wall and sent a curtain of spray twelve feet high and across the street.

“Today we were expecting a powerful storm,” the owner told me, as he delivered my meal. “So far, it hasn’t come.”

Island weather is that way, I thought. Always fickle, likely to change in an instant. Contented with my home-cooked chicken and freshly cooked greens, I ate as I enjoyed the sea’s minor tempest.


I turned and saw my daughter and Adam; they had found me by following the general directions I’d given them. Seeing them, the owner greeted them. Introductions followed.

The owner, Jimmy the Greek, had moved to Crete from Canada. We conversed in English, joked about the weather and the economy. And the future. I paid him and we walked back to the beach. As if on cue, the sun followed us.

MB and Adam enjoyed the beach; I collected colorful stones and shells that beckoned to me like pieces of rainbows. In time, we drove back to Heraklion, saw other beaches that we didn’t want to leave until the storm we had avoided found us.

Back in the car, we drove through its rain and, to our surprise, its stones of blueberry-sized hail. As it pummeled our thin tin roof, we thought we were under attack.

Less than thirty minutes later, we were under clear and sunny skies again. Diagonally shaped clouds like I’d never seen vied with a rainbow for our attention. It was as if the King of Knossos had sent a greeting.

And I had pictures of everything we’d seen.

Or so I thought.

“You should have gotten them,” insisted the clerk at CVS. I assured her that they were missing; I’d only been given color pictures.

She did them again, “At no charge,” she said.

I opened the package. She was right; I had seen those images in another packet of pictures. But there was a problem. They hadn’t been developed as black and whites; they’d been processed in color film chemistry.

Now, as I look at them, I think of plans I’d had for them. Rather than focus on the images I might have raved about, I’ll think instead about writing a poem, my version of Ozymandias (Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley - PoemHunter.Com ...
Ozymandias - by Percy Bysshe Shelley. I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the ... -  )…

                                          B.Koplen 4/26/13

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