An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.
Local Salem poets have provided us a new “take” on Quinton’s paintings. We see them in a “new light”. Here is an ekphrastic poem about “The Numenous Room” (found in the gallery) by Blake Campbell. It was recently published in the Able Muse –A national review of Poetry, Prose & Art
The wind surrounds us, taking stock
Of all that goes unseen, unsaid
In white rooms where the living walk
And blue rooms peopled by the dead.
Two realms, two houses intersect;
The walls between them dissipate,
Reflecting what they recollect
But struggling to get it straight.
Men dead for decades reappear
In lines the living blur and blot
Until it is no longer clear
Who’s really here and who is not—
Who’s ghost, who’s guest, who’s resident?
An open house without a close
Admits the things it underwent
Until the present overflows.
The breath of those who came before
Still fogs the panes and pricks the skin;
We take their steps across the floor
Not knowing where their feet have been.
For History (none would deny)
Is by its nature incomplete:
No chronicler can tell us why
The fire spared this stretch of street,
And if the victors write it down
And shape the present with their pens,
The future reads the past’s renown
As through a cracked and clouded lens.
And we are scrutinized in turn
By those who watch us from the blue,
The dead who seldom do return
To rearrange the world they knew.
Although they show themselves at times
In flickers, or the smell of bread,
Or when the family china chimes
Beneath a phantom’s heavy tread,
They soon withdraw. Their faces fray
Like faces etched in windswept sand
Or wisps in cloudscapes blown away
By one exacting painter’s hand.