The Ekphrastic Review is pleased as punch to present ekphrastic work from Arrowhead Union High School. Teachers Elizabeth Jorgensen and Terri Carnell love to engage their writing students with ekphrastic lessons and exercises, and we have the very difficult task of choosing a few selections and publishing them.
There were five artworks. Today is part five of five parts, with selections corresponding to each painting.
To all of the students who participated: we applaud your creativity and your courage. You wrote your hearts out! You all took risks, contemplating and interpreting a famous work of art, being brave enough to interpret it in your own way. You let the art inspire your imagination in new ways.
It was an extremely difficult task choosing a few from many for each of the artworks. Congratulations to each and every one of you on your words. We hope this taste of ekphrasis opens for a you a lifetime in relationship to visual art and literature.
In the last seconds of my slumber before I awake, I remember:
The fishing I did for my father, when the freezing rain was too cold for him.
The yellow-roofed restaurant I passed that sells fresh-caught seafood.
The old pennies I tossed into the fountain with the enormous blood-red sockeye salmon in it.
The starry night I used to observe, with
the white crescent moon staring back at me.
The ocean wind blowing the dark smoke stacks away from
the pattern-like crowded town with zero tourists.
I watch the vibrant sunset colors smashing into a cross-stitch pattern.
The colors of memories fainted with the overlap of growing up.
Vague pieces of escaping reality would compel dreams about my childhood.
Every moment connected with happiness and security.
Scenes of abstract memories come together and shape my childhood.
Dream-like golden yellow sunrise,
reflecting on the bright marble blue waves,
erasing thoughts of fear, with the
absence of worry,
missing and reminiscing about the free, careless world of my childhood.
For the last time ever, I remembered.
Dim, cloudy haze covered the town as sounds of shuffling echoed through the rusty boat dock. 5:00 a.m. was never too early for Violetia, even when her dad forced her out for the morning casts, but she still longed for her Abuelas’ warm quilt on her bed back home. Her little, scrawny legs swing from the edge of the dock as she sits staring into the abyss, her petite fingers etching the decaying wood beside her. Big, brawny workers sighed and huffed, carrying loads of fish from the night before. The sounds were unfamiliar to the little girl—she often found comfort in the bustling sounds and fishy smells.
“Vamanos, mi hija,” her dad calls from the other end of the dock, beckoning her to come onto the boat as the crew was almost about to leave. Her eyes fixed on the hazy abyss, her dad's call was only just a murmur. Out of the gray, murky waters, she glimpses something bright.
Bright? She pondered.
This small town in the mountains has been somber for decades—longer than Violetia has been alive. Gray buildings and houses, dirty roads, gloomy people, and foggy weather consumed the town and neighboring terrain. All day and night, the town was in a shadowy cloak. Nothing was bright here. Ever.
Bright? Her confusion was painted on her face: a blank expression written between her furrowed eyebrows and parted lips. She has never felt this new emotion—confusion mixed with awe.
The Bright parts the soft waves, creating a multitude of ripples through the murky waters. It swims through the abyss up towards the star-struck Violetia. She looks down at this newfound phenomenon circling the waters beneath her flip-flops.
A fish. It was a bright fish. It was a fish like the ones in her dad's net. But it was bright. It was colored from fin to fin, painted with vibrant colours. Red, blue, and yellow are mixed into a pattern along its scales. The fish pulsed its colours through its body, creating a wave of mesmerizing glow.
She flipped onto her stomach and stretched her hands out to the fish. The colourful fish broke through the surface reaching back to her, breaking through the foggy air. Violetia´s fingers brushed the scales, and a new wave of vibrance rushed over her.
Blazing, brilliant light shone from the fish, consuming the waves, the dock, and the sky above. The aurora swirled around her, painting her gloomy surroundings in a thick coat of color. The sky was consumed with red, blue, and yellow, twisting and turning between the fog and the clouds. The dock turned a shade of dark, intense blue and the skyline surrounding her became filled with glow. From dark red to flashing yellow, the town became a new paint pallet—consumed with Bright.
“Ay, dios mío,” Violetia murmurs. She sat up in wonder, witnessing the unusual world around her. She has never experienced these wonders before. What is going on? She thinks as her heart beats faster. She spots her dad beckoning her over to the boat. All the crew around the dock bustle like usual, no one seems to notice the color surrounding the town and surprising little Violetia. Her heart rate increases, pumping from fear to fascination as she takes in the beauty of the painted town.
Violetia rushes over to her dad’s boat. “¨¡Papá, Papá! Do you see the sky, the bright sky?” She tugged on his muddy overalls catching his concerning attention. He glances at the sky, a puzzling look on his face.
“The sky is always like this Violetia, what are you talking about?”
“I am talking about the sky! Do you not see the sky? How the sky is painted in a deep hue with the colours of the deep unknown sea, making you feel like Abueltas quilt, covering you in wonder. Do you not see the town? How there are different vibrances of hues bouncing from each house and building. Swirling around, creating a new world of wonder. The buildings feel like the warmth from the sun’s rays, or the fireplace on a rainy afternoon! It fills you up with joy and comforts you with love making you feel safe and warm!” Violetia gasps for air, “Do you not see the beauty? Our home is beautiful!”
I wake up around four a.m. to my alarm blaring at me. Quickly shutting it off, I slowly get out of bed, stretch, and get ready for the last full day in Alabama. My cousin Tyler was also up with me because we stayed in the same room. “I am so excited for today,” I tell Tyler.
“This will be my first time fishing in the ocean so this is a new experience,” Tyler says with a long yawn. As we go downstairs we find my dad and start packing for the day. We prepared a pre-made lunch and warm clothes because it was supposed to be cold.
“We have a long drive to get to the port we are launching from, so bring blankets and pillows to sleep on the drive,” my dad tells my cousin and me. Once we fully packed, we began the hour-long drive along the coast to get to the launch.
I slept the whole drive and what felt like instantly, we were at the launch where we met up with our captain for the day. He was a tall man with a gimp walk like an injured animal limping along.
“Hurry up gentlemen, these fish aren’t gonna catch themselves,” emphasizes the captain. We briskly loaded the boat and began our journey out into the waters. I was so excited to see what the ocean had in store for us and see what kind of fish we were going to pull up. We quickly rolled up on our first stop which was an old oyster farm that had wooden pillars from the shore to about 120 feet out in the water. Each rod setup was simple. 20-pound test line, a slip bobber, and a large barb hook with a shrimp on it. With the first cast out I instantly hooked onto a fish.
“There you go, son!” Yelled the captain as I brought the first of the day. A beautiful sheepshead with yellow and black stripes popped out of the water. I threw the fish into the live well and before I could even make my cast out, my dad hooked into one as well. This fish did not fight as hard but was perfect for dinner. A smaller sea trout with razor-sharp teeth he pulled out of the water. For the next 15 minutes, my dad and I were constantly pulling fish ranging from flounders, Redfish, black drums, and even a triple tail, but my cousin still could not bring one in. He gets a bite finally but the fish comes off. “You have to rip their lips off boy!” Yells our captain. “We aren’t bluegill fishing.”
After an alarming strike on my cousin's rod, he was finally hooked up. But there was something different about this fish. The rod had a much larger bend to it but the fish was slow moving and my cousin could not get it to move. “You got something really big on.”
“I don't even think this fish knows he is hooked yet, it feels like I'm dragging a car,” Tyler says as he grunts trying to haul the fish in. Suddenly the fish starts moving and trying to get away. The rod bends aggressively and almost brings my cousin with it. Then the fish started coming in our direction and we were finally able to make out what it was. “That has to be the largest black drum I have ever seen in my life, at least 60 pounds just look at the shoulders on that thing!” the captain says with joy. I saw the tail of the fish which was as large as the tire on a car. Each time it moved its tail, it brought more and more lines out.
After 20 minutes the fish did one last push and came off. We were all heartbroken but when we brought the line back in, the hook was bent perfectly straight.
“That was the coolest experience ever,” Tyler yells with excitement. “Let's keep casting.”
For the next three hours we caught about 40 fish and even a 30-pound drum my dad caught. We made our way back to the harbour and fileted the fish. That was a memory I will never forget.
Deep Sea Fishing
”Ding ding ding,” The harbor bell rang. It was my first day on my new deep sea fishing job, my dream job, and I was already late. I ran through the streets of Key West, Florida, with my fishing gear. The street lamps had a cold glow, making the buildings around me pop. Blurs of whites, yellows, and reds whizzed past me as I ran to the docks.
Rounding the corner, I saw my boat heading out of the harbor. It was long white, yellow, blue, and black. It had an enclosed cabin that read “Florida Deep” on the side, our company's name. There were a few more docks ahead of the boat, so I redirected myself to the furthest.
“HEY! HEY!” I started shouting as I picked up the pace for them to slow down. “HEY!” There was chatter on the boat and some of the other fishermen pointed in my direction. I continued running as fast as possible while the boat kept driving.
Finally, I ran down the dock, and the boat slowed down.
“Nice work, kid, almost missed us on the first day,” one of the guys said.
“Yeah, sorry about that; I don’t know what happened. My alarm never went off,” I said, trying to devise a quick excuse.
“No problem, kid, your alarm hasn’t gone off. We pranked ya, each one of us went through it. We weren’t going to leave ya behind. I am Jake,” he said, smacking me on the back and heading back to the boat's cabin. I pulled my phone out and checked the time. It read 5:37 a.m.
I wasn’t supposed to be at the docks until 6:15. My alarm wasn’t supposed to go off for another eight minutes. I swiped up at the base of my phone, opened my alarm app, and turned off the alarm. After that, I sent a text to my wife: “Hey, Love, I have a great story to tell you when I get home. Don’t eat without me.” Then, I added the heart emoji, I slid my phone into my pocket, and looked off the boat's bow. The water was a dark gray with a hint of blue. A bright orange and red line was coming from the horizon to the boat from the sun rising. We had to go slowly, but it was only until we got past the reef. I didn’t want to get splashed with salt water, so I turned around and headed toward the cabin entrance.
About 50 minutes later, we made it to our spot. The ride was smooth. The two other guys on the boat with Jake and me- Frank and Darek. Frank was the captain, so Darek, Jake, and I went out to set the boat up. We were going to use a technique called trolling, dragged fake baits in the water so the game fish thinks it's food swimming in the water. We had five lines set up in about five minutes, dragging them 40 feet behind the boat. From there, the three of us sat watching the lines while Frank made passes across the spots.
The time was now 8:07 p.m. We had already caught a dozen fish, but only a few of them I had brought in. By now, the sun was starting to set, and we agreed to bring the lines in when it was dark. I could hear an imaginary clock in my head as the boat rocked in the waves,” tick, tock, tick, tock.”
“ZING!” One of the lines started getting pulled out of the rod quickly. I jumped up and grabbed the rod. It nearly pulled me in. I put tension on the line and started battling the fish. Frank stopped the boat, and the others started bringing the other lines in case my fish had friends. Nothing. I continued to battle the fish, getting more and more exhausted. I would get some line in, and then the fish would take more line from me. I pulled back on the rod, bringing it to my chest, then reeled down. I did that for another hour; it was 9:12 p.m. I was trying my best to tire the fish out so I could bring it to the boat and not lose the fish. Finally, the fish was at the side of the boat. It was pitch dark, but Darek shined a bright LED flashlight on the fish in the water. It was huge, it had to be six feet long and the shape of a football with a bright red head with a yellow and black stripe behind it. The fish’s back was white, while its belly was also red and the tail was dark black.
“Okay, time to get this sea monster into the boat and head home,” Frank said, as we stared at this magnificent beast. We lugged the huge fish into the boat by the tail; it had to way a ton. Saltwater fishes’ tails are super strong and they can easily be held by it. Before we took off, I wanted a picture with it, so I handed Jake my phone. Then I grabbed the tail with two hands and brought the fish up as close to my chest as possible. One click with the flash and I drug the fish to the ice cooler, plopped him down on all of our other catches. Soon after, I sat down proudly in the cabin and we went home.
The Ekphrastic Review
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