Sometimes a narrow focus broadens possibilities. I took this photograph inside a culvert in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania as part of a photography class during my senior year at Haverford. The only part of the picture that is in sharp focus is the rim of the drain and the riffle of water at the lip. I was an English major and aware of the suggestion of sexuality and birth in the composition of my shot of what is essentially a storm drain. What I like about the photograph is the soft diffusion of light, the corrugated rings drawing the eye both inward and beyond the frame. It looks like a keyhole, if we could only find the way to unlock it. What are those shadows on the walls of the cave? The water is just a trickle, now, but that tunnel can accommodate a flood. Like the womb, and this mortal coil, one cannot linger indefinitely before passing beyond.
This other photograph, while not as well composed or focused, repeats the image in natural forms. Here an arch in a sea stack along the coast of Washington's Olympic Peninsula frames a more volatile world beyond of crashing surf and distant islands. The water in the lee of the rock is calm by comparison, but the tide swirls in at the mouth and refuge is far from secure. Forces far greater than I bored the hole in the rock. Do I dare to step through the door? Must I retreat from the waves? Are those sheer islands always out of reach, or will I one day pass over the water and rest in the shade of the trees?
Life and death, twining forces in ebb and flow, commingle in the waters by these gates. Change and transformation are certain. Perception narrows in the neck of the hourglass, where the sands cycle in both directions.