The Invisible Strings

Essay 212 • Oct 25th 2017

It was a warm Nashville night. I kept calling her Grace but it wasn’t her real name.

“That’s fine, you can call me whatever you like,” she politely resonated.

The resident sweetness in her voice made New York City seem light-years away.

Neon pulsed in her highlights. The fluorescent parking lot was a strange beacon. It sloped downward along the edge of an industrial zone leading toward a path under Interstate 65, treaded by drifters, wanderers, myself included.

After the first had left, a second figure wearing a black cowboy hat approached from the darkness.

“You think she’d wanna hold my guitar?” the busker hoarsely offered, presenting his acoustic instrument toward my direction as I unfolded a tripod. My response would be a familiar note in a sad song.

Around 1pm the following day, when the eclipse had reached totality, the cicadas, too, fell silent. I had flown from Newark to Louisville, then drove south to Nashville for the solar event, but when the moment arrived, I wasn’t gazing toward the heavens. I’m a sucker for human symmetry, micro-alignments of creative impulses. And whether I knew it or not, in shadows, I was the moon.


James de Leon is a self-taught photographer who grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley. He received his B.A. in American History from the University of San Francisco, and currently lives in New York City. His images draw upon the visual style of David Lynch, Edward Hopper, Todd Hido, Phillip Lorca-DiCorcia among many others.

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Model: Grace