Divine Women: The Woodblock Prints of Utamaro
Along the rock-shaved shore, they sit,
breasts dappled and open to the daylight.
Their red robes, slack across their salt-glistened backs,
hang above the rising tide, within the slow
arrival of rain. There is nothing
but silence, not a single word hovers near them.
They look down, lost in the language of waiting.
Miles out on the ocean’s ineffable lift and toss,
the fishermen fling their weave of nets, stand
counterpoint in the roil, wait, then haul
in the catch, sort ground fish from eel
and feel the women taking them into the nothingness
of thrust and calm: alone, the night, time empty
as the lure of space between the stars.
Here the women know there is no hope.
They reach into the sea, let the intuition of fingers
feel for the abalone. When they cut one from its shell,
they imagine tasting its pink tongue of flesh,
the sea dripping from their hands, the salt
singeing their open palms. By their sides,
the weathered brown wicker baskets soak
in the wet air. They will fill them in the only way
they know of being in the world. The wild young boy
who never leaves them, reaches above their robes
as if the moles on their breasts are stars.
Jack Ridl's Practicing to Walk Like a Heron was named best collection of poetry for 2013 by Indiefab/ForeWord Reviews. His collection Broken Symmetry was selected by The Society of Midland Authors as the best collection of poetry for 2006. Billy Collins selected his Against Elegies for the Center for Book Arts (NYC) Chapbook Award. In April his new collection Saint Peter and the Goldfinch will be released. All three full collections are from Wayne State University Press.
The Ekphrastic Review
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