30FOR30 Poetry Challenge: Form Friday, April 8

Week Two: Nature
April 8th: Ekphrasis

Today’s prompt is to write an ekphrasis from this picture: 

Khoikhoi in a Storm
Khoikhoi in a Storm

An ekphrasis is a “direct transcription from the Greek ek, “out of,” and phrasis, “speech” or “expression.” It’s often been translated simply as “description,” and seems originally to have been used as a rhetorical term designating a passage in prose or poetry that describes something. More narrowly, it could designate a passage providing a short speech attributed to a mute work of visual art. In recent decades, the use of the term has been limited, first, to visual description and then even more specifically to the description of a real or imagined work of visual art” (Poets.org). 

Here’s an ekphrasis by Robin Coste Lewis: 


The Wilde Woman of Aiken 

Albumen Photograph on Orange Mount, 
J.A. Palmer, 1882

I am not supposed to be
beautiful. I am not
supposed to sit

before the observant eye
of a sunflower. I am incapable
of having a voice

like a robin’s singing
of springtime’s newborn impatiens,
its balsams and touch-me-nots

crouched so low to the ground.
Vases and I are not permitted
to dally. If I were a name,

it would be Wall
paper. My hair is made
of a million breathing paisleys.

For five-thousand years,
I have listened to you
think aloud about a world

that does not exist.
I am sitting here
in the open,

and you are there,
dripping beneath your dark
velvet, waiting for the light

to reach you.
I have wondered
where you really live,

why you cannot hear
all the glass inside your syllables
slide off the table

whenever your mouth
opens and is then closed.
The story has not even begun.

The only thing left inside
my hand is my own
quiet hand. I am the Fourth Sister.

My florets stand together
at golden angles. My head
is packed with eager seeds

crisscrossing in spirals
one hundred garlands long.
It’s over now.

About my waist, dark
and bright: there is this
satin sash the color of sun

warmed eggplant
still fetching
on the vine.

prevent me.

Feel free to post your piece in the comments!



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