I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

13 April 2016

She Has Painted My Portrait

Shelle Kennedy's "Madonna of the Flowers"



















In the out-reaching place in front of my heart, I hold the child, my warm-skinned infant who bawls in my arms. That is how infants reach out for what they urgently need. This one is my mirror, my replica: we each have one eye closed and one eye open. The eye governed by the left, rational brain must stay open and clear. The other, the organ of the right, intuitive brain, is closed to outer distractions so as to see the within.

I hold my baby across my heart. My breast is bared to feed. But whose are the naked legs my hand also supports? They are green and ghostly. They must belong to that monster child which, with the other hand, I shove away. Both his eyes are wide, glaring yet blank. He sees the inside of his own skull, turning it outer. His teeth are long and sharp. Our skin is the same colour, green and purply blue, like a fading bruise.

My face is calm and closed, painted pretty. Small flowers are scattered around me, and bubbles of golden light; yet also swirls of amorphous red, deep red, going into darkness. I am outside the tribe, alone with my secrets. The one who yells for food, revealing a row of teeth with a blunt, straight edge, surprisingly mature, I hold to my heart. The other I turn from, push back into the red dark, the swallowing clouds … and yet, even more secretly, perhaps even from myself, embrace. In the foreground rise huge dagger teeth, reaching to devour us all.

mother and child
curl inward together 
mouth to breast


This piece is responding to several prompts:

Written in advance for Dark Poetry for the Cruellest Month, Day 6: Let's Haibun Her a Tale, in which we are invited to be inspired by this painting (which is used in the banner for these Dark Poetry prompts). 

Also written for Haibun Monday #11: Reach Out, about how we do or don't reach out to others. We are asked to say whether our piece is fictional. That's a bit hard to answer! It is, of course ... and also autobiographical ... in a way ...

And it is submitted for the current Tuesday Platform, Day 12 of Poetry Writing Month at 'imaginary garden with real toads'.

Picture – used here with permission – © Shelle Kennedy 2016 and text  © Rosemary Nissen-Wade 2016 are copyright and must not be copied or re-used in any way without permission, except by a link to this blog post.



28 comments:

  1. Ohh so chuffed to see my Madonna of the Flowers with such insightful poem... "outside the tribe, alone with my secrets" I really love that, I love the written poetic dimension you gave the trio :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so chuffed that you're chuffed!

      Delete
    2. *runs to google the word "chuffed"...*

      *comes back to say that she is also chuffed that you two are chuffed*

      What a cool word, chuffed.

      Delete
  2. I am charmed, and somewhat haunted, by this:
    "This one is my mirror, my replica"

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with De....Love this dark piece.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is stunning.. A truly darkness - like a metaphor for sickness. Your use of colors make me think of Terese Raquina ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't read that one, but I'm sure the comparison is very flattering!

      Delete
    2. Zola... I read it many years ago when in school.

      Delete
    3. That was why I said the comparison must be flattering! He is considered one of the greats, after all But, truth to tell, he is not to my taste.

      Delete
  5. Great job blending the prompts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Rosemary--such an interesting poem--in terms of all the various ambivalences. I wonder if the pic is not a little about act of weaning, and some traditional (supposedly) ideas of scaring a child off the breast! Ha! You've used it super well. k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You could be right. I saw it as perhaps an older child jealous of new sibling / usurper on breast – but chose to use it differently from that.

      Delete
  7. So telling this fear we have of the monsters within and around us. A premonition of what a child could grow into no matter how strong the mother's love!

    ReplyDelete
  8. "..glaring yet blank. He sees the inside of his own skull..." Fabulous line set within an amazing piece of writing XXX

    ReplyDelete
  9. The painting allows for very interesting interpretation. I don't think I've ever read an ekphrastic haibun. This worked very well.

    ReplyDelete
  10. If I stared quoting lines I love from this poem, I would probably quote the entire things. Wow, Rosemary. This is magnificent. What your poem tells us about the mother-child, mother-self, and mother-tribe relationships makes me want everything about these character.

    And like others have suggested, great fusion of prompts! ♥

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great fusion of prompts. Excellent haibun which makes clarity and sense from a nightmare painting. I am more attracted to your words than the image. And indeed, sometimes we are only able to communicate on the most atavistic level. Thank you for responding to the prompt.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Rosemary, reading this reminds me of SoulCollage... diving into the subconscious to reveal our many aspects of self.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I expect that, as in dreams, they are all aspects of self, yes.

      Delete
  13. Very-well executed, Rosemary! You captured and amplified the image of "[the one with] huge dagger teeth, reaching to devour us all."

    ReplyDelete
  14. I agree, this is absolutely stunning :D Kudos!

    ReplyDelete
  15. As a mother of four I know this poem speaks from experience and encompasses so much of the parallels we endure.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow...your words made this artwork all the more intense. You really brought a lot of insight to this...powerfully written, Rosemary.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Powerful write, Rosemary. This is an example of how poets are also such strong prose writers. One reason I love the haibun form.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love this dark one Rosemary...totally 'chuffed' :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Your poem gives a special sense of music to the painting.

    ReplyDelete
  20. This is beautifully written Rosemary ~ Despite the darkness, the bond of mother and child is universally appealing ~

    ReplyDelete