This is a picture I did not take, of a blue-black crow strutting disconsolately beside three bright half-oranges, on the rain-swept pearl grey San Francisco waterfront, at dusk.
I did not take the picture because I did not have with me the small digital camera that I otherwise habitually carry for just such occasions. With it, I externalize my memory, preserving evanescent images pure and undiluted by fading, changing recollection.
But I remember this strong, dramatic image clearly, precisely because I regret not capturing it: if I had done so, I would perhaps not treasure it, dwell on it in my mind's eye; bring it out and caress it like a jewel bequeathed by a dead relative. The relative, in this case, is my former self, the one who, walking in the rainy, dull dusk did not have his camera with him and so, forced by circumstance to commit the black crow, grey pavement and bright oranges to the palaces of memory, made them the more precious and imperishable.
This is a picture I did not take, that I do not take again and again.
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