With a conductor’s gesture, a man poised at a brink once brought together two curves.
Angular flesh and rounded iron approached each other, light and shadow moved over them, and a moment was consummated and became past.
Borne above the shapes like a banner, the word Trimble meant nothing. It only said, as if say were an intransitive verb. It was an order of service: a separately published hymnal to be sung from while the two bodies approached, touched, and then fell away. During that limit instant, the word and the two bodies were united in a single imaged meaning, fully understood but not articulable. Thereafter, in separation, all that could be said in words took the form of a caption (“Davis lock, St, Mary’s Falls canal”) that sang of the watery bed but not of the coming together in light and shadow that had once filled it.
Source: Detroit Publishing Company Collection, Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016800144/. The complete, pre-Photoshopped image is
The Library dates the image between 1913 and 1920. However, the mustached man with the pipe appears to be wearing a wristwatch — an accessory which didn’t come into wide use until after World War I.