This is Samuel Ace’s grandmother. She immigrated to the United States from Transylvania in her mid-20’s, not long before the opening of the First World War. Her name is Anna. Sam remembers Anna being a tall woman, while her husband—Sam’s grandfather—was short. They used to fight a lot. This is a still image from a Super-8 film Sam’s aunt took when Sam was young. The film is of a birthday party. Sam is showing me innumerable still images he has taken not only of the birthday party film but of other films, including one called THIS IS MY RAILROAD, of which Sam has taken 733 still photographs:
He takes images of images. Or they take him. It is time spent—an exchange. For example, Sam spent time in Bisbee, Arizona—birthplace of the poet Alice Notley—taking pictures of the objects people had in their homes. They have a life of their own, these objects, and are, in a sense, immortal. In the sense that matters. Here is a picture Sam took of a picture:
I am crouching on the floor beside Sam, who is sitting in a chair scrolling through images on his computer. So I am slightly below the vantage point of the original vantage point, looking up into this woman’s upturned eyes. Her brow is raised. Sam’s partner comes from a long line of antique dealers, so brought Sam into the wondrous world of thrift stores and their feral objects. Immortality reigns within Sam’s gentle witness, certainly. Sam is a photographer and a poet. Things come together.
Sam and I once ate pizza together. He talked about Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, where he spends time. Steam from the springs rising out of the earth. What does it mean when you meet someone and feel like you’ve met them before? Maybe you actually HAVE met them before, but forgot. Or maybe that person counts among their life-giving organs a kind of timeless and transcendent heart between hearts that is seamless when shared, and always shared. Sam is reading tonight for The Dictionary Project, coordinated by Tucson writer Lisa O’Neill. Here is Sam’s contribution to the project, including also his images. And here are Sam’s father and mother, from the same Super-8-captured birthday party, as seen again by Sam, many years later, at precisely the moments most intuitively stilled—a life, lives, differentiated and immortal: