View from the Window at Le Gras, c. 1826

by Stephanie Mitchell

Escher sketch
in binary light and shadow

Sun writing
lavender oil and petroleum
on a pewter plate

The first ‘decisive moment’
lasted eight hours

It transpired in 1826
or 1827 —
an odd uncertainty
for a medium
rooted in recording
precise fractions of time

A wash house, a pigeon house
a bake house roof
and an orchard pear tree

The work room window
frames the modest View

Niépce’s original
is eclipsed by Daguerre

For nearly fifty years
it slips into obscurity.

Published on October 18, 2023