Take inspiration from a picture today and write an ekphrastic poem. On the podcast Lulu Agate explains more about the form and how she wrote her poem film night.
(Inspired by ‘Bosnia’, an oil painting by Miguel Espinosa.)
Our choices are “Schindler’s List” or “Nell”.
Our mood although downcast is not strong enough for a basinful of genocide
or hermitage and
we don’t think Liam Neeson is “all that”.
Walking away from the ticket office,
down the steep steps into the cafe,
taking care not to trip again,
arriving in the old nave of the church,
Imogen shouts “Coffee and cakes!”, excitedly,
striding determinedly towards the bar,
leaving me the task of table hunting.
Not much room.
Just one table and lots of art.
Lots of startling art.
Each high, broad wall bears an assortment of canvases
shining in the candelabras light.
I look at the artist notes.
The artist lives here in this city, my birth city, with me.
His home is Nicaragua. He is a long way from home.
He shows me ‘Marigold At The Market’, who smiles, juggling oranges.
’Marigold’, the philosophy professor who had a frontal lobotomy.
Scars on his forehead where the two horns of madness were cut out.
We all see him directing traffic from the roundabout at the top of Grapes’ Hill,
His too big, yellow washing-up gloves slipped over small, delicate, dark brown hands.
He was a long way from home too when the mania took him.
His presence elicits a mixture of amusement and despair
as we all hurtle by, catching his calls of “You all crazy!”
We all know him yet none know what to say to him,
how to react to him.
Should we be sanctioning or celebrating him?
I move on. I look.
This time the market on a gray, wet, Norwich day.
The bright, striped canopies cover a multitude of stalls.
A scrawny withered, skeletal woman curled like a foetus
on the rain-sparkled street
surrounded by familiar market traders. Observing.
A red, bruised something between her legs.
Is this woman dying?
Why are these people staring?
I step back.
This painting is 6 feet tall, 10 feet wide.
A monstrous scene, reaching high, and low and everywhere, causing me confusion.
She is not a baby.
The babies are everywhere around her,
Littering the ground, they stretch behind her, curled in on themselves.
A sickening coil of gray, lifeless babies.
Too small to live. Too weak.
Their mother giving birth to death.
The painting pulls me in.
I take a deep breath, remembering I am the viewer not the viewed.
Why are these people just staring?
Why are they just staring?
Why am I staring? Why am I staring at this?
Escape to the single table
My friend tucking into chocolate fudge cake,
slurping a frothy cappuccino, lighting a fag.
“Where were you?”, she asks accusingly.
I was somewhere else.
I was a very long way from home.
“I was over there. Looking at the pictures.”
“Any good?” she asks,
her tone softening as she pushes my plump slice of carrot cake toward me.
I stare down at the plate.
Suddenly we are both aware of my hot tears
bouncing off on the shining white icing.
“Are you okay?”
He called it ‘Bosnia’.
I was in Bosnia.
I went travelling with him.
He took my heart away.”
I like staring out of the nearest window, watching courtroom dramas on TV, seeing films
especially DC, Marvel and other ones with magnificent beasties in them at my local
cinemas, walking with other people’s dogs, hanging out with my 2 black cats, my
beloved fella and my friends. I like a large gin and tonic, an American bourbon or a
strong cup of black coffee.
I dislike clearing the draining board, hanging out the laundry, inequality, ignorant,
entitled people, idiots (although I am sometimes idiotic too), the continued existence of
the gender pay gap, writers’ block, having 2 competing ear-worms at once, the tinnitus in
my right ear, the tyranny of perfection, ‘the city’, boil in the bag rice and writing about
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