An Ecology for Looking at Your Video Archival Practice

By Jessie McCarty

Photograph by Telo Hoy

Spring / Summer 2022 Issue

What else is left to success and wistful thinking?
I fell in love with a Ukrainian actor, all six feet.
He exists within me. Look, I say.
I’m creating family.

Conjuring up paperbacks, I hobble my body back to the warm shores.
Trembling with weak knees and nails, I carry a coffin that is
a certification proving I’ve made it and will make it again.

Once I reach the end of the beach I’ll call you. You can award me then.
My victory a warm seed, a fragile shell I didn’t ask for.
My actor leaves me mementos as a congratulations. But after all this, I don’t feel like a winner.
I’m tired of walking.
I’m tired of the sacrifice.

I enter the cemetery asking who can fix me.
My eyes are glued to the email app. My pupils
like droplets of unfit ambition, waving about.

I held a Sony camcorder close to my eyes to press play.
This was under the pretense I was capturing stillness, waste, cracks in the Chicago floor. Instead I tie a bow around my memories with a guilty little ribbon.
What’s gone? What’s remaining?

Bri joins me and Maya at the park.
I film Maya wearing the shoes I gave her, her purse dancing in the lens.

She’s deciding if she wants to tell me about stone.
Rocks, she mentions, change with the times.
Water and rock mesh into another to create shifts in the Earth.
I ask if that’s how she feels about personal progress.
We’re all going somewhere, she replies. So I head on out.

A church opens its communion to a vase of flora exploding.
Four gloves reach for the truth.
When the vase is put back together they change the narrative.
It represents the era of the event: cautious, fragile, a religious body still present but not all together there.

The chapel says it’s an artifact of dedication to the Lord.
Pastor sees it as an eyesore, a reminder
things can and will just randomly combust.
The fact bothers him.

A plantation owner had his name on my house,
the one on Carnation Street.
His friend was killed by cult follower Edward Bruce,
same as the Scottish prince killed in Faughhart Cemetery just centuries before.

Priced Edward died on my birthday, 700 years prior.

All this reincarnation.
No answers, just loss.

Jessie McCarty is a writer, archivist, and bookseller. They are from Louisiana, now in Chicago. In their free time, they like to run, snack, and read about gravesites.