Between Silences

When I was young I painted a woman.
I called her Our Lady of Manhattan
just an ordinary dark-haired mortal, her hand raised
in blessing.  What was she blessing?

Motherhood is the basic means by which life continues.
Birth is messy.  Life is messy.
What child is this?  Blood, the darkness before light.
Hold the light.  Hold the shadow too.

The sun dies and is reborn inside its own ashes–
I stand on the edge inside the mirror that reflects both ways.
The narrative enters, fills me with all that I will never comprehend–
bones brimmed into silence, mind beset by stars.

The shelter of trees, the shield of a raptor’s wing–
the cover of the night sky, the protection of the moon–
it won’t be long before all we have lost will be forgotten,
visiting us only in strange incoherent dreams.

They were merely stories superimposed on infinity–
currents traveling through veins beneath transparent skin.
How can you reproduce the alchemy of angels?—
In the beginning, the blood of roses—ever after, the crown of thorns.

My poem Between Silences, a response to the above painting Hymn to the Virgin, by Theodoros Poulakis, was published at The Ekphrastic Review on Friday. I have been thinking about that painting, which I did in the late 1970s, and I went to the storage room to look for it.

I was amazed at how many paintings from that time that I thought were lost were packed away in garbage bags and in boxes. I brought Our Lady back to photo and hang in my office, as she did so many residences ago. One of my projects for 2023 is to go though all that old art and photo it too. Besides the paintings there are about 15 portfolios which I think contain mostly collages, but who knows? I often look at things I did only 5 years ago and have no memory of doing them at all.

My thanks once again to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for her continued support of my work and the interaction of visual art and words.

26 thoughts on “Between Silences

  1. Toward the end of this last year, I went through my old journals, which I had already transcribed digitally all the words, and plundered the covers and drawings for new works and to display. I am always amazed when I look at my past work. It forces me to see what I have forgotten to include in my more recent work and how my focus has changed over the years. It also reduced my storage issues by a couple of large containers. I enjoyed both your painting and the poem that came with it. It is good to keep the shadows as well as the light keeping us whole and growing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve been meaning to do this for quite awhile, but all my moving around and daughters moving and out and around, plus the pandemic…but no more excuses. It’s true that some of the work seems to have been done by a totally different person. And I suppose I was.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your painting. Her expression is reminiscent of a lot of madonnas, staring into the middle distance as if she’s saying, this really has nothing to do with me.
    Congratulations on being featured in Ekphrastic. Lorette likes your work, and rightly so!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jane. I’ve always felt an affinity for this painting.i could never do anything like that now.

      As to the Ekphrastic Review, I probably get one out of every four submissions accepted. Which is pretty good. This is one I really liked, so I’m glad it was published.


        1. I had that same thought about Matisse. Nothing else I painted at the time is that simple.

          Some of Lorette’s images are more inspiring than others, but it’s always a good exercise for me.


            1. I often skip Visual Verse as well. A lot depends on my state of mind.

              My first collages were also much simpler. I can never reproduce what I’ve done in the past though. But I could try to pare things down. It’s a thought.


  3. A Cadralor? I love the way there is a faint line that runs through the verses and the painting at the end pulls them all together and links to the first one so beautifully! I rediscovered some of my art work from high school – I wasn’t too bad. No wonder my mother was pushing me to go into art… Of course things got less “abstract” after I got glasses in 10th grade! hehe!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s a wonderful portrait; it must be like seeing an old friend again. The poem is so rich with imagery, and I love the third and fourth stanzas in particular. “A mind beset by stars” feels so familiar!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sun. She is an old friend! I do want to get back to painting, but I don’t think I could do oils again. Perhaps acrylic. I need to clean out and organize my stuff before I can begin a big project like that though. I really must do it this year.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Aletha. I would love to paint again but as I was telling someone else, I first need to clean up and organize all my stuff (and thus, hopefully, my life). There is not room in my psyche to paint like that at the moment, nor in my workspace as it is set up now.

      Liked by 1 person

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