Saturday, October 6, 2012

Poems from visual material

Ekphrastic and other visual triggers make intriguing poems. They tend to be descriptive, but also to take lyrical and conceptual flights. Here is a poem of mine based on a film still from Kim Sooja's A Needle Woman. The film still I used was of the needle woman lying on a massive rock. Follow this link for other stills from the work.

Here is my poem:

View of a Film Still from Kim Sooja’s A Needle Woman

Father, I mend your shirt. Its grayed silk soft in my arms.
This view of Kitakyushu with its racing river
looks the same as water standing still.
I am surface, smooth rock against vibrant sky,
slate and azure. I am your needle woman.

A strand of hair at nape of neck becomes my thread.
My body is the needle holding two worlds. I sew together
the field of time where stone and air meet. When mother
hands me clothing to patch my thought is always I am needed,
I am quiet. This I do with the needle’s voice.

Father, what the needle tells me of your shirt
I see again in cloud, ledge and sky.
The fabric stronger for the patching,
more beautiful well-worn. This shirt holds
the shape of your chest, the olive odors of your skin.
I give it back to you mended, whole.

A look through my needle exposes
hip curved into rock. Another look shows
open horizon. Inside my own heartbeat I study
the needle’s point. The slender metal stabs fabric,
emerges to fingers underneath. Blindly I guide the needle.
My fingers anxious, willing to be pierced.
Mother hands me another shirt saying, mend first,
and in so doing you will create.

Patricia L. Johnson

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