DaguerreoTyped #12: Photo Prompt Ekphrastic Response

John Davis, Jr., responds to our monthly historical photo prompt with his poem, “Re: Sisters, 1945.”


“Re: Sisters, 1945”

We forged our own lightning, arced our own sparks
behind dark lenses, beneath primly pinned wraps:
we soldering soldiers in lace and powder fired current.

When they hooded, head-scarved, and goggled us, the men
who ran the institute felt better about women
owning words like “vocational” and “technical.”

Our delicate everyday diction became embroidered,
emboldened by terms like circuitry, positive, ground:
the language of electric liberation.

Lab lights brightened our features more
than the world beyond the white-painted wood
frames of windows whose panes warped sun:

The UV rays twisted, conformed to deviations
in the hardened glass dividing females from iron men — 
those same distortions trapped in our lenses.

We kept at the silver heat:
joining conductors and insulators, turning
static to dynamic, then back again.


JOHN DAVIS, JR., is the author of Hard Inheritance (Five Oaks Press, 2016), Middle Class American Proverb (Negative Capability Press, 2014), and two other collections of poetry. His work has been published in literary journals internationally, including appearances in Nashville Review, The American Journal of Poetry, The Common, One, and Deep South Magazine. He holds an MFA from the University of Tampa and has received multiple nominations for the Pushcart Prize and other awards. Follow him on Twitter.

Each month, Alternating Current Press presents an ekphrastic challenge for writers and lovers of history: We feature a different public domain historical photograph, and ask writers to respond to it. There is no wrong answer, and no set style guidelines. Poetry, prose, hybrid, fiction or non, experimental — Anything goes that has a history bent. All work is considered for our Charter Oak Award for Best Historical and for publication in our annual Footnote: A Literary Journal of History (only if selected), and the best responses will be published on The Coil the following month. Check out our homepage for your chance to participate in the current DaguerreoTyped historical ekphrastic challenge, and read all of the past archives here.