This tiny vessel, wooden,
a burning head, black from the flame,
now empty, hollow, broken,
a lingering whisper of a name
and nothing more. Just cinders.
A gust of wind now out of mind,
and every heartbeat hinders,
but urging forth the flow of time.
The sky tonight is cloudy, which is just as well, because the moon is mostly full and it would only obstruct the view of the stars.
I remember when I dated the engineer, the young man who was too smart for his own good. The first time he came to my house, he brought me a towel, because he heard that I was living the life of a minimalist consumer (a student) and he thought I might need a towel. We took a walk through the forest that day, and I think he was more impressed than I was that we both liked to walk through the forest. There was a skeleton in the woods—dog or deer, I do not know, for it looked too large to be either one. The engineer was disturbed by my curiosity, so I resisted the urge to investigate. I led him to our destination, a place I discovered shortly before, where the water cascaded along the rocks, where I could lie on my back and pretend I was alone and just listen to the water rush and swirl around me, lie with eyes closed, picture the light dancing off the rapid, rippling surface. When my eyes were open, I could see the blue sky, vivid and electric, framed by the tops of trees reaching, with no effort, into my vision, as though they wanted to reach down and rock me gently to sleep. I wanted to lie there for hours, but the engineer pulled me away far too soon. I led him back a different way, this time veering south at the skeleton, so we skirted the forest’s edge, although the engineer did not know it. He thought we were deep in the woods, and plunging deeper, far from my little cabin where his car was parked, his means of escape. I pointed us towards the cornfield. The stalks were short at that time of year, but next to them was a vast grassy field with steadily sloping hills that I loved to run across, and I know the engineer enjoyed running after me. He caught me, pulled me down into the grass, and he laid me there and kissed me. I opened my mouth to him, and his bold hand told me that he wanted to do more, but we were in view of another home and I had no wish to go inside during such perfect weather. After dark, we lay on the grass and watched the stars, the pinpoints of light actually starbursts to me without my glasses. The moon was shrouded in darkness, so the sky was full of those splendorous bursts of light, like orbs—like Van Gogh’s yellow orbs.
I contemplated how short my life was.
The engineer contemplated how short the night was.
And tonight’s sky, with the moonlight painting the migrant clouds purple and grey to contrast the blackness above, hiding the nothingness I’ve contemplated for a lifetime—no mystery, just clouds—with the cold gripping me, not the warmth of that night by the cornfield—
Tonight’s sky is more beautiful to me than the sky I shared with the engineer.
Moon’s an umbrella caught rolling
in night’s samba, the best of me
still too self conscious to dance
with an asking shadow. The hull
tips and cascades a galaxy into
the forward compartments, the x-ray
will show most of its denser momentum
was never seen at all. I leapt when
I thought we had drowned,
the floor done spinning about
the day’s array, and passed around
the couch for another sip of sleep.
It’s the silence I love most—
all worries and taboos
dissolve here in my silence.
They drift and wither away,
gray ash rising from heat.
It’s warm here in my silence.
I’m drifting too, and I wilt
to stasis of unseen blooms,
sweet betterment, alone.
I can bury myself in this silence,
I can sink into its depths
where nothingness awaits.
My precious silence.
An ekphrasis poem is a piece inspired by a work of art, like my poem “Lily Pads,” which was one of the three winners of the Aroma of Art poetry competition; it was based on the painting “Lily Pads” by Kitty Bryant, a truly beautiful work of art. You may see me post some inspiring works of art. Ekphrasis poetry is good exercise; I recommend any poet give it a shot!
I tear myself apart,
a million tiny pieces,
lay them in rows
and tuck them away.
others taste them,
they don’t understand.
They swish and spit them out,
Poke, prod, search for patterns,
arrange the pieces of me
into designs no one else can see,
or toss them into a heap—
waiting to explode.
I look at the trees—they’re black clouds against the dim gray sky. No stars tonight, no breeze; even with the roaring engine nearby I could be the only person on Earth. There is a light from the forest; it illuminates every spider’s web that I didn’t see before. I lean closer; the intricate weave is suddenly a beauty to my eye. I sit and stare until dew settles on the delicate silk; I watch it become a galaxy, billions of twinkling celestial bodies all netted in a single entity, a universe, vulnerable to the slightest breeze, yet capable of harnessing life and destroying it all in the name of its creator. I’ve never been so close to the stars. I tend to long for things that are too far from my reach.
As one of the three winners of the Aroma of Art poetry competition in Hickory, NC, I was chosen to read my poem “Lily Pads” to the Grand Finale crowd. Yesterday was my first time reading before an audience. I really appreciated having so many people approach me afterwards and tell me how much they enjoyed my reading. My theater history helped me take the microphone with confidence, but I must admit that my hands were a little shaky afterwards. Hopefully there will be more readings in the future! The poem was based on a painting by a local artist who donated her work to the charity auction. Aroma of Art is a great program and the Grand Finale went wonderfully!