Ekphrastic Poetry, Part 2
In a second example of an ekphrastic poem, I was inspired by a painting titled, Two Women, by my wife, the artist Ruth Leavitt Fallon. Not long after Ruth hung the painting in our dining room, I began to wonder what it was about the painting that haunted me, drew me to keep looking and looking at it. There was something of the mysterious and mythical there which I kept trying to grasp, but it kept eluding me. Finally, I just decided to try to record the imaginative journey that the painting took me on, and the poem, Two Women: Earth and Air was the result.
Two Women: Earth and Air
Who are they and why have they come,
These two women who stand on the beach
With sky and ocean behind them,
Who have turned toward us,
In the obvious pride of motherhood,
Each with her newborn in a sling?
The dark one regards us,
One eye narrowed against the light.
While her hand cradles the head of a child,
A faint smile plays upon her lips.
Behind them, perhaps, a secret
She will never tell.
The blond one holds her infant swaddled
In sleep against her chest. In calm wonder,
She looks down into the mystery of a shell;
While over her shoulder, a white breaker
Rolls in out of forever and
Caught out of the frame
Somewhere, the sun
Does not move.
The tide has stopped going out
Or coming in. And we, the living,
Want time and the world to begin
Again—So they are here, on the shore
Of the possible, the two necessary goddesses,
Of earth and air, poised before sea and sky,
The blue infinities who gave birth to them;
They to these children, this scene
The painter, the poet—
And all the rest