November 2, 2023

Roman Vishniac Photographs a June Bug

"The photographer must not think like a man. He must think like a bug." New Yorker, 1955

When he entered the community of insects
at brunch time, after an early morning session
had found the velvet green bugs inert
and sleeping in, Roman Vishniac glided
smoothly like long grass rustled by wind,
becoming part of the landscape when he lay down,
clothes and skin absorbing the green smell.
He closed his mind
to the roar of trucks on the road behind him, his worry
about next month's rent, what might be flying
overhead those Cold War days; and he watched
the bug awaken with the smallest shifting
of its head, its dust mop face
with antennae waving slowly to judge
wind speed, humidity, the rising temperature
like someone gathering strength
to face the day.
Its horns clipped lazily along
the edge of a leaf until at last
the beetle raised itself
on segmented, sticky legs; and before it flew
away to tunnel rot into a peach or fig,
Mr. Vishniac captured with one shutter click
the instant between resolve and lift.

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