A Tintype Reveals

A few days ago, Margaret Muza took my tintype at her gorgeous studio in the Pfister lobby. The intricate chemical and photographic process she uses is a tale for another post—I’ve never seen anything like it, and the whole thing is truly fascinating. Something I wasn’t expecting, though, is the surreal moment Margaret places the black plate into a bath and your face materializes, recognizable as yourself but also somehow strange. In a digital age where we take photos made of pixels and immediacy, there is something mystifying in seeing what this antique process makes of your face. Watching my image slowly emerge felt beautiful and enigmatic.


As she swirls the bath, the ghost
of my face surfaces, hollowed eyes.
The light comes
first, then a swell
of shadows.
My face emerges
as a dark dawning.

But this isn’t the face of mine
I recognize.
This is my timeless
face, as I might have looked
a hundred years ago.

It is disquieting to see
my face
outside time,
features budding without artifice,
this face of mine
that would have dawned
in any age.

Author: Nicole Mattke

Nicole Mattke looks to bring a vibrant literary culture to the historic Pfister hotel through a variety of activities. As the 10th Pfister Narrator, she will host seasonal mini-events with book themes, a modern take on a monthly book club and provide story prompts for guests and the entire community. She will share these, and all of her Pfister experiences, through blog entries over the course of a year. As a published and award-winning author, Mattke has presented her work at various events throughout the community. Her talents lie in creating stunning pieces of writing that reveal the beauty in daily life. A busy mother of two sets of twins, Mattke finds time to write in a variety of genres as well as contribute to blogs. Mattke was chosen to serve as the hotel’s tenth narrator-in-residence based on her excellent writing and vision for the role. She succeeds Dominic Inouye, who served as the ninth Pfister Narrator.