You Were Pictured Then, 2012

For those who left


You will remember the moment before most clearly. The breath before the narrative takes a new twist and everything that was evident turns and breaks down into new syllables and barely comprehensible sentences. A flame rises and consumes the grass, leaving a circular shape. An omen, a beacon, transmitting signals across the field but far too late: smoldering, dying.

Something has been lost and afterwards you wonder when it happened. Search for times, places in your calendar until the pages crease, your hand aches. Remember features and fingers, hair against your cheek in the wind, and at the same time this sense of sliding. How warm was that hand, how sweet the scent, the color of that eye, and the little lines in that skin?

Slowly, inexorably, the face turns away and the image fades. The color of the cardigan, once distinctly brown and with a large mesh, dissolves into beige, gray, white, until nothing but the white remains. White light across the field, a frostbitten wind raising the grass from trampling feet. The damage from the fire heals and the grass grows over it until no sign of the combat remains.

Afterwards, you try to define life. Return time after time to the pictures, finger the smiles to pale suns. The faces are masks, the body closest to you that of a stranger. Your own face in a crowd, smiling. And you try to recall the context, the impulse that made the corners of your mouth turn up, but all you can see is the flash that blinds and then dies down.

A before and an after. Stagnation, silence, waiting. A longing for something that sustains, and a dread under the indifferent white goblet of sky. The gaze that turns away and the wind that perks up and shifts your hair so that, for an instant, you can see clearly. See the light, the clouds, the field. That which will remain when you, too, are gone.

Boel Gerell