Shirey sent me the photograph above as an email attachment, with the note that he hoped I was still alive. I am at present, but do not want to be overconfident. I was excited to see another of his amazing photographs of nature, this one part of his ongoing fascination with images of ice and called "ascent of the frost spirits."
Jim uses his camera to pick up spirits in nature. I put this photograph up as wallpaper on my laptop so I could look at them and think about them as I worked on a story I've been writing. At first I found myself thinking of the central figure as Queen Mab, who, according to Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," brings us dreams. I thought also of Diana surrounded by her nymphs in a line from Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale." The speaker has allowed himself to be carried away on the wings of poesy, seeing in the night sky "haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne/Clustered around by all her starry fays."
Then the central figure began to change, or show her many dimensions: an insect self, even a Virgin Mary self inset in the lower portion of the figure, and back again to her whole and truest self. I told Jim that I loved the photograph though it scared me a little.
What, I asked myself, has he caught in his lens?
He sent me another email, with the following two photographs attached, which he introduced as follows: well, if the frost spirits scare you, try these on for size.
- ▼ December (3)
- I'm a professor of English at The University of Akron--I teach fiction writing and literature classes. I have published about fifty stories and essays in magazines, as well as a novel, Jack's Universe, and a collection of stories, Private Acts. I grew up in a military family, so I'm not from anywhere in particular except probably Akron, where I've lived for thirty-five years. Before I came here, I never lived anywhere longer than three years. I got my BA from U.C. Berkeley, my MA from San Diego State, and my MFA from The University of Iowa.