Thursday, October 14, 2021

Albumen & An Almost Ox Post

 Happy Friday, Poets!

Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones is hosting this week's round-up which is sure to bring a smile to your face with some funny fun puns, and she's celebrating the publication of a new anthology!  10.10: Celebrating 10 in 10 different ways. Hip Hip Hooray!

I'm thrilled to have a wee poem included in this collection with other Poetry Friday friends. Congratulations to all!

In late 2020 I knew ox would be my OLW for 2021. I was nervous about committing to such a unique word. I wondered if I could find enough prompts to keep me poem-ing for fifty-two weeks. I began storing up snippets of poems, photos, and references to ox and oxen in various files. I came across a forgotten photo this week.

Smithsonian Learning Lab:

The photograph is full of all kinds of curiosities--the name, E.K. Blush, yoked oxen, a man, that huge cart of hay, Stuttgart, Arkansas?  What caught my eye was the word albumen. Egg white? Yep.

This led me to google albumen and silver on paper... which then led to the most tempting and deepest rabbit hole of all, Wikipedia (insert that unbalanced giggle sound).

As it turns out, in the early days of photography, photographers kept laying hens near studios for the egg white to mix with silver to coat cotton paper to take a negative from a glass photographic plate. How about that?

By the time I re-surfaced from research, it was high time to write a poem with Hamish but, I had nothing specifically on ox...except the fact that a pair are pulling that hay cart in the photograph.

I returned to Wikipedia to scoop up words for a found poem below. 

Whew! Hamish assures me it this poem still counts. After all, he carried me down the road to it. We enjoyed the journey. 
We hope you do too.

Albumen Print of Ox Cart
After searching for albumen and silver on paper 

Jump to him

medium size
1871 exploitable--
used to bind 1855
to the 20
th century.

of remaining silver

and gold
fix importance
to preserving
hand-tinted history.

Words found on Wikipedia

Linda Mitchell, Oct 15,2021


  1. You're so creative! I can't see the word albumen on the original photo. Is it on one of the signs?

    I hardly know how to follow the spam comment that is already on this post! It is a clear truth from a testifier, apparently!

    1. Yikes! I didn't explain that part...every other part but that. It's in the Smithsonian description. If you click on the photo the link takes you to the source -- the Smithsonian Learning Lab. Great place to get lost too!

    2. Oh, thanks, Linda, I had that same question! I love the deep dive you did here. You have made INCREDIBLE use of the word Ox. :) I love this so much! Librarian poets are the best. :)

  2. Wow, that is some truckload of hay! How interesting that somehow albumen and silver were mixed to coat cotton paper etc, etc . . . I love what research unfolds! Thank you, Linda! I love lurking in the nineteenth century.

  3. What an interesting journey you've woven out for us Linda! I love this word combo:
    " to preserving
    hand-tinted history.
    Nice twist in there–and what a jump that would be… Thanks for the historical-linking poem-ride!

  4. I was fascinated reading your process here, Linda. Thank you for sharing all the details. That photo is so interesting. I'm sure it made Hamish feel it in his bones.

    Aren't we thankful for the alchemy of photographers who captured moments from the past like this. Love these lines:

    "fix importance
    to preserving
    hand-tinted history"

  5. Oh how I love a good rabbit-hole! What a clever idea to use a Wikipedia entry from your rabbit hole as the source for a found poem! Like the other commenters, I particularly love those last lines. I love how old photographs give us glimpses into the past and bring it alive for us.

    I am also in awe of your commitment to one theme for the entire year - I'm not sure I could do that! I would be tempted by other words and other poems ...

  6. You were definitely 'thinking outside the ox', Linda! Fascinating stuff and your "unbalanced giggle sound" evoked an equally unbalanced giggle from me. Thanks for being a part of my anthology journey. :)

  7. Your journey with Hamish is an ongoing delight and an impressive feat, as well! Thanks for sharing it with us and for those fascinating tidbits about your rabbit hole discoveries. I, like Bridget, laughed aloud at your "insert unbalanced giggle" aside.

  8. Love the journey (and Wikipedia), Linda. That picture, the hay, amazes. I want to know how they put it up so high? And the use of the albumen: how did they figure that out? The poem's a bit of history pulled by Hamish, superb!

  9. Absolutely delightful. Loved your journey down the road and into the rabbit hole of research - fascinating about the albumen + silver thing. And that pile of hay is huge! How did they keep it from tipping over? I'm growing so fond of Hamish. :)

  10. You must must MUST put RJ Palacio's new book PONY on the top of your TBR. It features a photographer from the early 1800s who is an innovator and inventor. (There is also a boy, a ghost, counterfeiters, a gunfight, and a white-faced pony.) It is SO good.

    Love your pony and your journey and the way Hamish pulls you into rabbit holes. (PONY is also about a journey and rabbits play a big part in the end.)

    1. I am scurrying to put PONY on my list!

    2. I just listened to Colby Sharp interview R.J. Palacio on 'The Yarn' about PONY. Oh, my goodness, yes! I must read this book. I hope I can snag a copy at AASL. Thanks for the tip!

  11. I LOVE that you deep dive into topics to write poetry. It must be that librarian skill of research. Who knew about Albumen. As a photographer it is intriguing to know this.

  12. Linda, I do apology for not adding my comment to your post. I am amazed at what I have not been able to accomplish recently. I did read your post several times and was surprised to see it in my open tab. Then, I opened the tab to see no comment from me. You know that I admire your research techniques. This old photo reminds me of the stereopticon cards from Victorian times. You are very resourceful when it comes to finding new ideas for poems. Great job!

  13. I love reading about your research process, Linda! So wonderful. And that photograph is fantastic!


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!