Against the white pallor of the world, or let’s say today’s
sky and not be so grand, I hope for an arm of sun to solace me
for a collision with a new haunting from child-time.
It is a specific drama in three lines, with a cast of three siblings,
neither young nor old, that fresh impales: one, a boy, man enough
to be a mariner (just), and the other a man, boy enough to teach and write
(just), and I, a tall girl still growing, studying ballet’s geometry of longing.
The first stood, kitchen-left, declaiming, “I’ll be an officer in my uniform one day,
and he’ll be a renowned author, and you will be a famous
ballerina and we will see you dance.” Such a singular prophecy
of success collided with what I knew would really belong to us,
schooled as we were in numbing failure. Shafts
from before have twice the velocity of earth’s arrows, sometimes.
But see: even among collisions – one colored dried-blood red –
other shafts hold angel wings, and many are clear, and open to anything.
wounded clouds, I thought – purple
bruises on strips of sky brooding low
over the horizon, as though earth had
kicked upwards where it lay on its bed,
wanting to kick the sky away as it bent
too close, smothering. And earth,
a fretful child, wanted only to be left alone,
too frustrated to do anything but kick and
toss its head side to side and cry, I thought.
I thought all this as I drove along a highway,
a long journey in unknown country.
Storm coming, I mused: those bruised
much closer, I lifted my eyes and saw
a maze of hills, glazed a softly praying
brown, swirls of mist. A blue sky stepping
toe first through tulle grazed my mind.
Purple clouds were – stunning revelation –
really mountains – strange backhand mirage –
they’d looked like creation’s ontic bruises
from a distant place. Saving transfusion
of everything: no storm coming, no kicking
earth, no bruised sky; only prehistoric
monuments to endurance, running with streams
of melt-water to shrive and quench, running
And this is me, just coming into being in Collograph 5.
This image of my emergence, with my crude arm, my
spatulate hand, my pointy elbow and what looks like
a very large breast going the wrong way, immortalized,
rather exposes a total want of grace, don’t you agree – a
thorough-going physical awkwardness. In the interests of
transparency, let me just say that I’d have thought He would
have given me, as Original Model, more style, and assembled
my component parts with greater precision - and even aplomb,
wouldn’t you? But, this is a Don’t look till I’m done! moment.
Well. I suppose that makes a theological statement, doesn’t it.
While it beggars belief that it could’ve been like this, I now see
that our creative processes, with their Don’t-look-till-I’m-done!
element, are presaged by a divine one: thumping and gawky.
I note, too, that although I’m barely there, you can already see
the incipient snake, knowing exactly where he is going.
Orange-gold is my brooding colour – a bit counter-intuitive, true,
but it suits me somehow
when I brood over the formless deep. And now see how a wave
of yearning sobs –
human beings (I’m just thinking aloud here: they don’t exist yet),
will have a hard time
understanding it. They will think their yearning is for each other –
as it is, but, ah –
it is also metaphor. They must learn that yearning and being are one,
as Word and Voice,
as Dancer and Dance. Everything that will be will yearn. I yearn.
You wouldn’t think so
to look at me, I know. Surprise. Now, where was I? Yes. The formless
deep. When I stand back
to look at it, I think it needs a touch of iridescence to crown its seething
propensity. Shall I give it
its own dressing of glittering orange-gold? I’ve already created Light,
but it needs some refining.
Too fast. Too everywhere. Better if we have to wait for it, after a time
of darkness. Shall we
make a great ball of fire? Shall we? And let this orange blaze bejewel
the sea, scatter light
like gemstones from the hot depths of the (as yet) uncreated mountains?
What shall we call it, my love?
Johanna Caton, O.S.B., is a Benedictine nun and lives in England, but was born and raised in America, and lived in the U.S. until adulthood, when her monastic vocation took her to the U. K. Her poems have appeared in both online and print publications, including The Christian Century, The Windhover Literary Journal, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, and on The Catholic Poetry Room web page at: https://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/?s=johanna+caton
Miki Lovett is a printmaker who lives in Sun City, Arizona. She works in monoprint, etching, marbling, collagraph and blind embossing. Her monoprints and etchings are done in abstract subjects; her collagraph and embossing are usually based in geometry. Her work is exhibited in a number of galleries and art centres in Massachusetts. For more information on Miki Lovett's work, please visit her website. https://mikilovett.com/index.php
Read more poetry by Johanna Caton on Miki Lovett here.
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