The John H. Bennett, Jr., Prize
after an exhibit, City Gallery at Waterfront Park
Like the bulrush fanning basket
coiled to toss rice and separate it
from chaff, these gallery photos
we are viewing hold only part
of the golden story. The history
They tell is architectured,
altered, proper pretty
like a picture. The largest hangs
suspended for aerial viewing.
Morning, a rice field. Yellow—
all aglow—with a perfect sun,
captured bright and white.
The lofty view marks a landscape.
Safe. Processed. Winnowed out are
18th century mosquitoes, snakes,
alligators. Also missing, the enslaved
whose laboring made landowners
rich and Charleston a city.
And just like that, through omission,
this exhibition allows us viewers
We visualize the other landscape,
the one beneath cash-crop comfort—
its truth in tableau.