The Darkroom, a poem by Candace B. Johansen at

The Darkroom

The Darkroom

written by: Candace B. Johansen



He had a darkroom.
Hidden away in a tiny
unused closet in our house.
I was allowed in
only once,
when I was deemed old enough
to not bother him,
or the chemicals
that he used to make his Magic.
I stood rapt,
barely breathing.
Afraid that even the slightest movement,
the slightest breath,
would somehow disrupt the process,
injure the photograph
that was slowly coming to life
before my eyes.
I knew in that instant
that I needed to make that Magic.
I needed to bring those hidden pictures
to life.
I got my first camera at seven,
with the admonishment that it was not A Toy.
A Toy.
As if I could, would, ever deign
to treat it like
A Toy.

I never used a darkroom.
And I know my life is all the worse
for that omission.
Rolls upon rolls upon rolls of film,
of photos I had taken throughout
the years,
from camera after camera that I bought
as I sought the newest and the best,
were sent away to be developed.
And in return,
I received the Magic in an envelope
filled with photos developed
on an assembly line
miles away
and those tiny negatives that gave me a glimpse
of the Darkroom Magic
that might have been.
Film cameras gave way to digital cameras
and I photographed
And through the wonders of technology,
I was finally able to
make my own Magic.
Add my own beauty.
Do more with my photography than my father
was ever able to do with his.

I know that,
if he could have seen the Magic,
MY Magic,
he would have been amazed.
And yet,
with all that technological ‘Magic’
at my fingertips,
I would give anything
to have a darkroom
tucked into a small, unused closet
in my house.

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