Every Day is Earth Day: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 23

Inspired by all three images

There’s magic held in ordinary things–
the robin’s song, the light it brings
in rosy dawn, when the world is silent
save its song,

a remnant of the ancient tunes—
the ones that drift from stars and moon
to rest in Grandma’s smile and hands–
both soft and strong

their movement deft, her knowledge a gift
a time-shifting swift,
a songbird that sings–
you belong,

words not needed, as with doggy grins and kitty purrs
the soft whinny of a favorite horse—all stir
the magic of this wondrous world
as light around a shadow long–

so, watch, listen, see—it floats, rests, soars on wings,
this quiet, splendid magic of ordinary things.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 23. Each of these challenge poems is written the day before it’s posted, so this one was actually written on Earth Day. Both of my grandmothers died when I was very young, but my daughters have had strong relationships with theirs. My mother died last April at age 97, but my husband’s mother is younger and going strong. You can read the other poems here.

The Walk: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 22

Inspired by Jane Cornwell’s image below.

The morning glowed, spring-scented,
the air seemed full of promise, contented
they talked of ordinary things, the commonplace–
conversation as comfortable as their pace–
the children, the news, that new restaurant—Thai–
that they never got to try–

Yet does he walk beside her—
there where the branches stir?
The pace still comfortable, the air still aglow?
There’s a sparkle on the water, catching the flow
of currents and light. Yet only one shadow, no talk–
the birds keep her company on her walk.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 22. I gave this a slight edit. Last week a woman at the park told me she missed her walking companion, her husband, who died this past year. I thought of her when I saw this image. You can see all the art and read the poems here.

What Will Be, Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 21

Inspired by the images by Jane Cornwell and John Law

This small, soft hand, bath-cleaned
of sticky treats and all the business of a summer day–
mud-castle building, caterpillar catching, and treasure digging.

Like Daddy, as his pretend pick strikes the dirt.

And her heart lurched,
fluttered a canary-winged warning.
Not my son,
his cheeks sun-glowed, his nose freckled,
his deposition sunny,
not life-etched grey with
coal-tattooed lungs that rattled–
no more,

the darkness, dirt, and danger,
not for my son, the estranging underground life.
He will hear the blackbird sing,
and in the dappled light, he’ll dream.

A poem for Day 21 of Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge. Today Paul is dedicating the challenge to the memory of poet Dai Fry. You can see all of the art and read the poems here.

Burning Bright: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 19

Burning bright, each season’s swift turning,
she comes named and nameless, always here
assuaging aches and calming yearning,
giver of life and light—see her,

she comes named and nameless, always here
reaching the apples, making fungi sprout,
giver of life and light, in darkness, see her
circling–a serpent, in and out

reddening the apples, making fungi sprout,
not angel nor demon, she is desire
circling. A serpent in and out,
beyond time–she’s earth, air, and fire–

not angel nor demon, she is desire,
assuaging aches and calming yearning.
Beyond time, she’s earth, air, and fire-
burning. Bright, each season’s swift turning.

A pantoum for Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 19. My poem didn’t make it into the post, but you can read the rest of them here.

Distances: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 18

How do we measure distance?

Between yesterday and tomorrow,
the light of long-dead stars echo

like a voice, a song, a laugh
lingering in memory, and dreams

that bridge the distance
between imaginary and real,

to tumble over and over like waves–

but where does a wave go? And does it roll,
or unroll onto the shore as it picks up and deposits the sand,

each grain a part of something larger—
a rock, a meteor, a star—

the distance between before and now
a footprint on the beach, gone.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge. You can see all the art and read the poems here.

Beneath the Surface: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 17

Inspired by John Law, “Back from Shopping” and Kerfe Roig, “Badger”

Sturdy women coated and scarved,
against the cold, damp English day. Tight-clad legs step
clop clop on water-pooled streets. The little one’s hand grasped—
everywhere unseen dangers lurk.

There will be no jumping now. Come along, her mother says,
and goes on talking about Bess’s too-soon baby, Tom’s gout,
and Will who lost his job—again.

Beneath the surface of their words, stories swim,
fish waiting to be caught,
the meanings elusive, not quite hooked.

The woolen hats and packages move with the women, yellow, red, and green
contrasts with the grey all around.
In the fine drizzle of the fretting sea,
the shops are nearly invisible,
like the badger in their garden, a fog-creature of the night.

The girl wonders if he lives beneath
the surface of the puddles. She jumps, despite her mother’s hand,

and laughs. Then a laugh bursts from her mother’s surprised O mouth.
They continue walking. It’s almost time for tea.

She will save some scraps for the badger. See if he surfaces, like love.

For Paul Brookes’s Ekphrastic Challenge. You can see all the art and read all the poems here.

She Is: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 16

In the spindrift of stars,
she’s felled, stayed by strands
silvered in the night

she circles in cycles of moon phases,
phrases repeat in her mind, bridging seen
and unseen worlds,

the doors that might open—if—
in the tides of sea and blood—there is life
flowering,

in her womb, in the earth,
the repeating petalled patterns,
the roundness of berry and belly,

the strength of limbs, rooted
to the earth, while reaching for the sky,
seeking light

she howls as it fills her. God, human,
something in-between? This is the truth—
she is what she is, and what she has always been.

She circles in cycles. Repeats.
Ever and always. She waits.

For Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 16. I was inspired by all three works. You can read all the poems here.

Too Late: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 15

Cosmic after-
glow, echoes of light,
energy
and matter
through time, before time
before our time–eons

of coursing
color no one sees–
from the sky
to the sea
repeating cycles, fractals
and Fibonacci

on the beach,
a nautilus shell—
you hold it,
marveling
at its spiral curves, ancient
sailor, now moored here

amidst stones
and gull laughs, soaring
as Gaia
cups the world.
This is how life unfolds, in
circles and seasons

without hate.
Too late for her, or
him, or them—
the Other—
though filled with stardust, too. See
how cycles repeat?

A shadorma sequence for Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 15. We’re halfway through! You can read the other poems here. My work is inspired by all three works of art. I am behind on replying to comments and visiting other posts because I’ve had to finish paying work this week, but I will catch up in the next couple of days. This will be my NaPoWriMo poem for today because I know I won’t have time to get to the prompt.

The Shadow People: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day14

It began—after The Before. You remember?
When the world was colored with optimism,
primary colors and pastels, sun-spackled roofs, rose gardens,
blue skies? Even the winter ice sparkled with trapped starlight.
We went to work and school and shows,
traveling on buses and trains through the city.

I used to make up stories about the people we saw in the windows—
the little girl with the dandelion, the woman
who danced in a red dress? All those windows dark now.
Please say you remember.

Then cough by cough, the world turned greyer.
The flowers lost their brilliant hues, fragrances disappeared.
And the shadow people came.

They walked out of my dreams
to gather around the TV set–strangely drawn to it.
They follow me now, almost eagerly, like ghost puppies.

They have no faces, but they look like me. Haunted.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 14, I was inspired by all three works of art. You can read all the poems here.

Once: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 13

Once the harbor was a bustling place
of summer light, with salty tang– the sky a vivid blue,
all day and night, we gathered and chattered–of clouds no trace.
Once the harbor was a bustling place,
full of hope and sweet mysteries–our love was new,
but star-crossed by autumn storms–gone ship, captain, crew, you.
Once–the harbor was a bustling place
of summer light, with salty tang, the sky a vivid blue.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 13, I wrote a triolet based on all three works of art. You can read all the poems here. I haven’t written a triolet in ages, and I forgot how difficult it is to get so much in eight lines with the repeated lines and rhymes. But here it is. This will be my NaPoWriMo poem for the day, too.