“Aphorisms Thrown into the Eye of the Blizzard” by Tamara Raidt

Here I Go by Elizabeth Hlookoff, painting of a woman walking into a swirling yellow light

Image: “Here I Go” by Elizabeth Hlookoff. “Aphorisms Thrown into the Eye of the Blizzard” was written by Tamara Raidt for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, July 2023, and selected as the Editor’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Tamara Raidt


1. A girl walks into a blizzard of waltzing lights.
The other end of the tunnel is not as near as you think.
2. If you stare at the sun you’ll see a Cyclops face.
Ulysses and Nobody are the same person.
3. A girl doesn’t need to introduce herself to strangers.
Men often forget to ask for permission.
4. A girl disappeared next door and was never found again.
That is not true. She was found in a park.
5. She was found dead in a park behind buzzing bushes.
Words and their order matter.
6. At mass the priest made everyone stand up and pray.
Her coffin smelled like cheap wood.
7. Someone told me she now lives in the sky.
I do not believe they got it right.
8. So Ulysses said Nobody with the confidence of a lying man.
And the witnesses saw nobody, they saw nobody in a park.
9. I’m almost sure where she lives now.
Please let it not be behind baseboards of sprung floors.
10. The sun is as round as bellies can get.
There are as many stars as versions of what happened.
11. One version is my favorite and it goes like this:
A girl walks into a blizzard of waltzing lights.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
July 2023, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the series editor, Megan O’Reilly: “When I chose ‘Aphorisms Thrown into the Eye of the Blizzard’ as my winner for the Ekphrastic Challenge this month, I knew I’d have to give a disclaimer: I love this poem but I’m not sure I’m equipped for it, and that’s partly because–brace yourselves–I’ve never read the Odyssey, which the poet clearly references with great significance. While I can’t do justice to the layers of meaning here, I am very compelled by the profundity I can sense, if not fully grasp. I enjoy the way this poem unfolds, the language and content becoming more open and revealing, and the way most lines are strong enough to stand alone–‘The sun is as round as bellies can get’ is a poem in and of itself. The facelessness of the female figure in the painting and the abstract nature of the swirling circle she exists within are elements that strike me as dark and haunting, and I find ‘Aphorisms …’ to have that same sense of evocative unease.”

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