Ethel and I participated in a Write On Door County Art Speak’s event at the Kress Center in Egg Harbor earlier this week. Francha Barnard led the group, and we produced two poems after looking at the art on display on loan to the Kress from the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay.
by Ethel Mortenson Davis
An ekphrasis poem from Kendra Bulgrin’s painting:
“All In A Dream”
She was startled
out of sleep
by a sound
and ran in bed clothes
to the water’s edge.
There, along a blackened beach,
a snow goose lay dying.
She knelt down
near it’s limp body,
cradling it with her torso’s warmth
all through the night.
In the morning
she woke from the dream—
the snow goose gone,
but its softness
lingering long across
the front of her chest,
its message seared
in her mind.
When An Artist Drew an Owl’s Portrait
by Thomas Davis
A response after seeing Rebecca Job’s painting, “Glow” —
This started as an ekphrasis poem, but, as with most poetry, carved its own path during the writing process, metamorphosing into a poem about a pastel, “Barn Owl,” I saw Ethel Mortenson Davis draw.
A full moon, bone white as fine china, shines
through young white pine needles branching into night —
but she isn’t aware of the night’s moon, or its darkness.
A box of multi-colored pastels, half used down to the nubbings:
and she leans over the hand-crafted dining room table,
big light overhead,
staring at black paper,
eyes where her spirit is.
Inside her stillness you can feel the predator’s feralness,
alertness tense with consecrated concentration,
and then, as if her prey is shocked,
fate suspended in time,
her hands blur, her whole body moving,
as lines slash into blackness
and smear color, movement
into an owl plunging claws silently
toward an unseen mouse.
In less than a thousand heartbeats,
as the round moon shines,
the barn owl is frozen into black paper,
wings flared, large eyes swimming
with claws, silence, wings, death,