“After Cleaning the Kitchen Again, He Realizes” by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Ekphrastic Challenge, July 2017: Editor’s Choice


Portrait of a Kitchen by Samantha Gee

Image: “Portrait of a Kitchen” by Samantha Gee. “After Cleaning the Kitchen Again, He Realizes” was written by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, July 2017, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

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Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer


Don’t look in the sink for happiness.
It sounds so obvious. But even the shiniest,
cleanest sink is still only a sink.
Don’t look in the cupboards.
Don’t look in the fridge. Don’t look
to the tile floor—though this
is a place we’ve danced before.
Even the stovetop, the home of flame
and chemical change—the burners
are not what we seek. Of course
we look to the kitchen. The center
of everything. Don’t look out
the open window. Don’t expect
from the empty green vase.
The only thing that’s ever mattered
were the lovers in this space.
No matter how clean the counters.
No matter how soft the breeze.
It’s us, my love, it’s us that’s missing.
It’s us that we most need.

Ekphrastic Challenge, July 2017
Editor’s Choice

[download audio]


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green, on this selection: “Samantha Gee’s painting generated a wide range of responses—some saw nostalgic breakfasts, others saw the loneliness of retirement, and many saw ghosts, which was surprising, because I don’t see ghosts at all. Very few of the 300 entries were love poems, though. Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer hooked me with that first line, which does indeed ‘sound so obvious’—so simple and wise that I think I must have read it before, but it turns out no one has. Lines like that are rare, as are fresh and authentic love poems like these. It fit the painting, and lifted my spirits, frankly. I hope it lifts yours, too.”

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