02 November 2012

Ekphrastic Poem

Here in Hamilton, New Zealand, we have a group of lively poets who meet once a month. Sometimes we set ourselves a little task.  This time someone suggested that we write an ekphrastic poem - one stimulated by a work of art and which attempts to bring out the essence of the art work. Here is my effort, "From Stone", inspired by a sculpture in marble created by a friend, artist Robyn Douglas.  My son Warren couldn't resist it and so parted with some of his worldly wealth.  When he shifted to the South Island he left it with us, on loan - it is VERY heavy.

It has a curious difference in appearance at night - hence the poem.

Aretes and Cirques
Nun in a Position of Prayer

From Stone

It’s not often you see a woman
mash and chisel armed
dust and sweat streaked
searching a stone for soul

the lichen-blackened
skin has gone
a meta-structure of  marble
exposed in crystal

ice white in glacial cirques
the scoops of hanging valleys
reveal curves of breast, buttock
daily we watch it grow

the sculptor is Robyn
her smile of recognition
hidden under the mask
of goggles and task

at last the valleys are sculpted
their sensuous heft and shine
inviting the stroke of hand
a wish to protect, to own

different angles, different lights
reveal aretes and valleys
or folds of a wimpled woman
nun in a position of prayer

or is she saying ‘namaste’
in day a nunatak
at night a nun, from stone
the soul of a sculptor.

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