The Haunted Copy
A leaf sits beneath a piece of paper. A hand from above holds it in place and a graphite point begins its work. The pencil moves, back and forth, slowly at first and then faster, skating over smoothnesses and hiccuping, imprinting darkness, when it meets the fragments of a severed system—veins and wrinkles, the mellow edge where the leaf ends and the table below it re-emerges.
These strata of a scene are flattened, recorded on the paper in gradients of graphite. The hand that grips the pencil tightens, senses an end, increases pressure and in doing so shifts the relative darkness of the copy, leaves the trace of a human touch, a touch which plucked this particular leaf and laid it just so— I want to keep you, but I want this you to be of me.
The hand loosens, the paper lifts, all parts of the mechanism are changed. The leaf, pockmarked and crushed where the pencil pressed its hardest, the graphite tip dulled and slanted, the hands just a little sore from holding their positions, and the paper. The paper, most curiously; it is no longer filled solely with emptiness, a presence itself. These unmarked objects have a history that resists blankness— it now projects onto the copyist’s eye an image, a shadow, the record. The leaf, now dry and yellowing, the bald patch where it used to sit on a branch that grows on without it, the shadow on the page that can be erased but not undone. The paper is tucked into a drawer— mine; desire left it— the crumpled leaf thrown out— thank you for the prophecy of your form.