past and present tense by stephen voss



I’m embarrassed to not know of her, a famous author, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. My broad sense of the world is a point of pride, a defense system and more practically how I find a way in to each person, a way to stave off my own concerns about “having something to say.”

The shoot came together quickly which meant my usual research and sketches weren’t possible. So we circled each other in her lush, green backyard talking of the weather and her home in north Baltimore. And when she looked away, her eyes drifted past the current moment to someplace far and unknowable that I didn’t dare ask about. It occurred to me later that perhaps my ignorance had been a relief to someone so used to fame. 

Photo: Author's backyard, Baltimore, Maryland

Stephen Voss