Bio Note: I live with my husband on five acres in rural Wisconsin where we raised our five children. I worked as a pediatric nurse in hospitals in Virginia, Florida and Wisconsin before becoming a teacher of English to elementary aged refugee students. I am in various states of awe to visual artists and am somewhat obsessed with ekphrastic poetry. My gratitude for poets and artists who went before me—including but in no way limited to—Georgia O'Keefe and Emily Dickinson.
In the Unlikely Event of a Water Landing
Place your bare feet on the designated footprints, raise your hands above your head. Take an oath to the Hokey Pokey then mentally flick the spinner, call “left leg blue, right hand orange.” Meanwhile appreciate that Homeland Security has replaced the color-coded advisory system. Concede that tooth whitening strips contain trace amounts of metal enough to trigger alarms. Rush to the gate and find a plane but no crew— sit by a window with a view then practice inhaling slowly. Discover a crew and a plane but mechanical difficulties. Consider the nostalgic notion of trains the way the track schedule clicks into existence. Inclement weather with holding patterns- you needed this nudge to donate online to Doctors Without Borders. Stuck in a southbound airport— say seven Hail Mary’s and consider your sins how they pile up, the Red Sea, how it parted on demand. Realize there is never compensation for acts of God and remember that seat cushions may be used as a flotation device.
Originally published in Bellingham Review
Bones or Blooms
“I decide to accept as true my own thinking.” Georgia O’Keefe Her death decade, you hang a calendar on the crumbling yet historic lath and plaster walls of the third floor walk-up you share with three other nursing students. Each month you predict if the next painting will feature bones or blooms. There is no apparent pattern and you begin to classify months, weeks and days as skull or flower filled. You favor the flowers, intricate poppies and lilies of the field though she assures you bones do not symbolize death. Their lively shapes please her as she props them against the big blue sky West of the Hudson and rolls her eyes at the men with their Great American novels and their Great American plays. She works red into white porous cavities and the windblown blue into everything unfenced. Her black capes and dresses, her panoramic views contrast the white uniform you wear on crowded streets to the hospital’s rotating shifts that stink with disease or are fragrant with release- purged of everything malignant. You start to see Georgia in the crone-like faces of your patients. You turn and hoist them up in bed to keep bed sores and diabetic ulcers from sinking bone deep. If you could you would give them her money, her handsome companion, her kick-ass character. Instead you hang tube feedings and powder their support stockings before you work them up gnarled wasted legs. You clock out, unlock your bike and pedal home. Out on the porch, you smoke a clove cigarette, drink a dark beer and assign floral or bone auras to your patients. You look for stars through Mid-West humidity and think of Georgia on the roof of her adobe house calling coyotes sticking flowers in the eye socket of a steer skull— liking the effect.
Originally published in Blood and Thunder—Musings on the Art of Medicine
After a long bout of insomnia the artist craves a dream memory—one with a narrative and color screens. Her head is heavy with dense material, her blank canvas waits for celestial release, her brushes stand tall and clean. All winter she waits for birds to return. She needs to search for their cobalt wings against spring’s green cover. The morning after the sap moon of solstice she receives a twisted dream. She mixes the sky’s blue tint with its texture of vapor. The beaks of her creatures feed kisses of oxygen-rich air to each other.Their hollow sternum and curved rib lashes lift their undocumented flight to an altitude beyond miles. Dense leg bones lower and center their specific gravity. She feeds their high metabolism with the nectar of foxglove. Their tiny porous skulls contain brains tangled with spider silk and greenhouse gasses. Wishes wait to be granted feathers float toward hope on the edge of her canvas.
Originally published in Art as Poetry Poetry as Art—Call and Response event
©2023 Jenna Rindo
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