Chandler Oliphant


I took this photograph last Spring in Vejer de La Frontera, a small town near the beach in Cádiz, Spain. At that time, I had been studying abroad and living with a host mom named Concha in Seville. On this particular day, however, Concha had driven me and her dog Chapú down to Vejer to show us the home in which the room in this picture is located. An artist herself, Concha finds refuge in this room (and this home at large) because of the peace, quiet, and calm that it offers her. Not only does she find refuge here, but she also finds inspiration and relaxation, for the home and the room are both reflections and products of her character and creative spirit.

An Artist's Creation, Relaxation

An Ordinary Room

The light that shines on palaces and mansions also
shines here in this ordinary
room. The sun is an eye whose glance
extends from heaven through windows,
skylights, doors… reveals
whatever it touches: The trapezoid of that table,

suddenly here. Beyond the table,
the firm plumpness of cushions, also
here. This light, so caught, reveals
a mind, in the room or of it, that’s happy to be ordinary,
to see the world as it is through the windows
of the eyes, to look on everything with a glance

that adds nothing, a glance
with no yesterdays, no tomorrows, for which the table
is an assemblage of light. And the light from unseen windows
is a vacancy that also
fills the curtains until they vanish. This is how the ordinary
is transfigured: A scene reveals

more and more the more it’s allowed to become itself, reveals
a mind whose glance
is happy to look on ordinary
furniture like a table,
like folding chairs, like that bold blue cupboard also,
as if it’s gazing in from outside, like through those windows

opening on the foam of perilous seas… those windows
Keats spoke of once. The glance reveals
its presence, even in the barest scene: It is the impossible also
that’s more intensely here the less it’s here, this glance
that falls and falls into the ordinary,
into the blank light that strikes the table,

into the pattern of the carpet beneath the table,
the souvenir museum poster, the unseen windows,
the dark chair, all the more frightening for being ordinary,
the curtain pulled sideways that reveals
something in the farther room. We join our glance
to this one, and we also

ask how anything can be ordinary. We also
glance toward hidden windows.
We see how the light reveals a table.

-Sam Schmidt, Baltimore Review editor