In this black and white photograph, an elderly man walks inside a wooden building. He is midstep in crossing the threshold of the house, his back is turned towards the viewer, his face is concealed by shadows, and he is wearing striped trousers and a cap.
"Out here you wear out, men and women wear out, the sheds and the houses, the machines wear out, and every ten years you put a new seat in the cane-bottomed chair. Every day it wears out, the nap wears off the top of the Axminster. The carpet wears out, but the life of the carpet, the Figure, wears in. The holy thing, that is, comes naturally. Under the carpet, out here, is the floor. After you have lived your own life, worn it out, you will die your own death and it won't matter. It will be all right. It will be ripe, like the old man.
Nothing happens to a man overnight but sometimes what has been happening for years, every day of his life, happens suddenly. You open a door, or maybe you close it, and the thing is done. It happens. That's the important thing. I watched the old man in his nautical hat cross the yard like one of his harrows, the parts unhinged, the joints creaking under a mat of yellow grass. He stopped near the planter to suck on his pipe, tap the bowl on the seat. On the spring handle of the gear was a white cotton glove, with the fingers spread, thrust up in the air like the gloved hand of a traffic cop. The leather palm was gone, worn away, but the crabbed fingers were spread and the reinforced stitching, the bib pattern, was still there. The figure on the front of the carpet had worn through to the back."
The Home Place, 1948
poverty; rural; elderly; doors; buildings; farms
Link to share this object record: