Bio Note: I'm a lifelong resident of central New Jersey, founding director of the Carriage House Poetry Series, and poetry editor of Tiferet Journal. My most recent book is Wind Over Stones (Welcome Rain, NYC). In recent years, I’ve been drawn to ekphrastic poetry (responses to nonverbal artworks through written language). Some of my early ekphrastic poems appear in the December 2014 issue of Verse-Virtual.
Once, Late in the Day:
East Canada Creek, Stratford, NY
After Mountain Landscape with Bridge by Thomas Gainsborough I’ve come to see the sun flick over stones in moments of gentle flashing, to think how fast a memory becomes its own illusion. I’m here because what we call the soul— that almost visual echo—is always close to holiness. A birch on the shoreline shapes itself to the breeze; aspens tremble as if this moment were all there is between one beauty and another, between mystery and revelation. Here, there is no revision, no opposite for recollection. Once, late in the day, my father and I fished beneath this bridge. I was seven or eight, and small trout shone underwater, quietly golden. On the only road home, we were part of the shadows’ perfection (trees and what was left of the sky). As we walked between hills (close in the last light), my pail of water filled with stars, and the sun came down, fallen from a larger light that, far too soon, my father walked into and was gone.
So Here You Are
After Spring by Georgia O’Keeffe So here you are—by yourself because that’s what you choose. Whether it’s evening or late afternoon (more dark, more light) doesn’t matter, the need to measure things becomes less and less important. Lately, you think how life rushes through everything—unsettled dreams and things that will never happen again. In a week or two, the lilacs will bloom; dogwoods will float like watered silk. It’s ironic that all your seasons have led to reverence for things that move slowly; how you, like anything ordinary, changed without breaking. A dog barks on the street behind you, the sound distantly familiar. Language. Landscape. In one of the trees, a small bird sings—this one bird’s one song only for you because you are alone, and you hear it the way you can almost hear the time between breaths.
As Far as Here Goes
After The Soul of the Rose by John William Waterhouse We know so little of things for which we pray. Humility. Forgiveness. And no idea what soul really means—its before and after, life after this … life … in timeless life—a vastness so remote we can’t imagine it. Morning, like light on the other side of frosted glass, clears into color. Starlings braid a pattern into the sky then vanish in what little time it takes to mark their flight. Beside me, a pinecone drops to the ground. This kind of purity comes to us without intention—in ordinary things that are anything but ordinary: the way sun lights a room at different angles, the way air moves behind us. It’s about how we move, how we let the world twist through us as we twist through the world—like everything given to gravity—doing and doing. And here (as far as here goes), it’s about what doesn’t separate us from ourselves—what’s permanent, what’s not. It’s everything we turn toward— whatever signs we find of wonder and joy.
©2022 Adele Kenny
Editor's Note: If this poem(s) moves you please consider writing to the author (email address above) to say what it is about the poem you like. Writing to the author is what builds the community at Verse Virtual. It is very important. -JL