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“And our faces, my heart, brief as photos”: recollecting John Berger

After running across John Berger’s lines about poverty in our century in the context of a blog post on Haiti (cf my previous post), I was prompted to return to my favourite among Berger’s books, And our faces, my heart, brief as photos, first published in 1984.  This volume has been by my side in times of great sorrow.  It opens with the following poem.  

When I open my wallet  

to show my papers  

pay money  

or check the time of a train  

I look at your face.  


The flower’s pollen  

is older than the mountains  

Aravis is young  

as mountains go.  


The flower’s ovules  

will be seeding still  

when Aravis then aged  

is no more than a hill.  


The flower in the heart’s  

wallet, the force  

of what lives us  

outliving the mountain.  


And our faces, my heart, brief as photos.  

John Berger

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