“A Horizon Is Vague at a Distance” by Martin Willitts Jr.

Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2020: Editor’s Choice


Old by Dominique Dève

Image: “Old” (acrylic on paper, 24x32cm, 2018) by Dominique Dève. “A Horizon Is Vague at a Distance” was written by Martin Willitts Jr. for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2020, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Martin Willitts Jr.


I had tried to construct her memory,
but the image is grey winter clouds
before a snow storm breaks silence
in half, flakes like skin, yank-rips off
like bandages. I can’t remember
the good days cross-stitched. Every
haunting footstep, every turnstile
to an exit or entrance, every spinning-
jenny making fragments, splintering
again, again. Memory is muddy now.
It’s been too long, too many seasons,
too many things we never said, too
much shattering. When does memory
begin or end? splinters glass? I try
assembling pieces that don’t fit.
I mold her face out of clay.
Each particle of memory dissolves
as snowflakes on a tongue, crumbles
whatever we needed desperately to say.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
December 2020, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “So much emotion bleeds from this poem, which transforms the painting into a fading memory, that the sorrow and longing feel inexhaustible. Every time I re-read it, I find I’m holding my breath by the end.”

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