Packard Plant, East Side

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“Packard Plant, East Side” by Danny WIlcox Frazier

At the end of LeDuff’s novel, there is what appears to be a photo essay of Detroit, so that when you close the book, you’re not closing off your connection to the very real plight of the city. The images are imprinted into your head, trailing imprints of color and light, so that when you think of Detroit, you have something to remember it by.

This photo, titled “Packard Plant, East Side,” was especially poignant to me. It’s a sad and candid portrait (or do we call it landscape, here?). There are no “seeds of hope” to be planted into this picture, like we always try to do when we talk about Detroit.  While the woman is the focal point of the photograph, she is not mentioned in the title. This suggests that instead of the abandoned Packard being a part of her life and her experiences, she is a part of the Packard plant and all of its rubble.

You wonder where she’s going; is she receding to the recesses of the plant? Is it a shortcut to home, where a warm bed awaits to cover her bare back? Does she even know where she’s going?

The mystery is what makes this photo intriguing. We don’t know, and we’re supposed to accept her as an accessory of the building, like this is part of the normal landscape of the city.

Considering the misplaced boat in the foreground, the useless factory ruins, and the shirtless woman dragging her heels across the rubble, this photo could alternatively be titled, “Washed Up.”

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