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THE THIRD-PRIZE PHOTOGRAPH

by Susan Donnelly



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Also by Susan Donnelly:
Harpo (1999)

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I would give this First Prize:
the couple at odds, clearly,
while someone at the end of the same bench
looks off toward the river,
a cyclist goes by on the path.
Boxes within boxes,
like an antique camera,
for of course there was also
the photographer, who chose this print
from the contact sheet,
and now there's a viewer
with her own stories.
It may be that no one
knows quite what is going on,
nor what choices
lead to the moment the lens flies open --
the woman's dismissing hand,
the man urgently leaning,
an eavesdropper stiffened,
one foot bent sideways,
the cyclist in his own world.




Susan Donnelly is the author of Eve Names the Animals (1985), which was awarded the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize by Northeastern University.
Copyright © 2000 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; January 2000; The Third-Prize Photograph; Volume 285, No. 1; page 38.

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