Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some Gestures (Poem)

Some Gestures

The birders complain it's not safe
in the kola trees; the hunters, that

the bush meat burns too blue—it is
the fever, rising. Rains far out over

the Atlantic fail to cool the tongues
that click off nonspecific symptoms

of infection. Hands wear nothing
sterile, harbor their history of giving.

An only daughter, wanting memories,
falls to unsafe ground, flings sand

the color of coriander seed after her
mother's plastic-wrapped body. Her

own lips refuse to repeat calculations
of risk. Some gestures, too late faulted

— smoothing hair, closing eyes, wiping
mouth — cannot be contact-traced,

or shared. Through each fissure virus
slips silently, thin as thread, not felt.

© 2014 Maureen E. Doallas

This is an ekphrastic poem, one of several written in response to a Maura Cunningham painting, "We Breathe in Unison" (oil on canvas).

Cunningham's painting is one of three artworks contributed to Broadsided Press's call for "Responses to Ebola 2014". I submitted a different poem, "Hands Make Their Movements", which was accepted to accompany Cunningham's painting. All three artworks and their poetic responses may be viewed and downloaded and printed here. I'm honored to be featured with the other writers and artists.

1 comment:

Peggy Rosenthal said...

How interesting that you wrote these two very different responses to the painting. Both poems are very moving, and subtle in their movement.
I like what you say in the Broadsided Press interview about art as witness. You are in Denise Levertov's tradition.