What Lies Beneath
Entwined bodies wrapped
in multi-coloured quilts of geometric shapes
bare limbs—hands & feet,
legs & thighs, breasts & tiny penis,
muscled shoulders & smooth flanks,
young & old, calm smiles, some faces buried
in their own arms, some nestle
another’s shoulder or neck,
skin alabaster & mahogany, all sleeping, except
one woman—eyes wide open, staring
from beneath the tangle.
Quilts and bodies
illuminate the darkness.
Beyond the cast of light,
a shade, wrapped
in darker quilts of blue and purple,
black crucifixes and circles, outlined in white,
—a grim voyeur--
skull gazes from empty eye sockets,
grin, more than skin deep,
two skeletal hands grasp an object--
scepter for ruling the night?
sword for battling the light?
or a scythe for reaping?
What lies beyond
this waking dream
of life & love
age & youth
wrapped in colour and diversity?
What is the destination of this journey,
this walk toward what we
do not know--
this passage through the earth
this rendering into most basic elements
this crossing over?
We all look the same
when flesh is gone,
when we open our eyes
in that new darkness.
Janet Ruth is an emeritus research ornithologist living in New Mexico. Much of her writing focuses on connections to the natural world, but she is also an artist (pen-and-ink and watercolor), and so is inspired by the work of other artists to reflect on life. She has poems in Bird's Thumb, Santa Fe Literary Review, previously in The Ekphrastic Review, as well as in three volumes of Poets Speak Anthology - HERS, WATER, and WALLS, and Weaving the Terrain: 100-Word Southwestern Poems. She is finalizing the manuscript for her first book - Feathered Dreams: celebrating birds in poems, stories & images. https://redstartsandravens.com/janets-poetry/
The Ekphrastic Review
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