Image: “Blueprint of a Dream” by Jaundré van Breda. “Balancing Act” was written by Ajay Kumar for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, July 2022, and selected as the Artist’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)
you are on your tiptoes to see your mother
in the ICU ward, her face in a heart of glass
made blue with nebulized breath, by confession
of the hospital floor in your eyes that the only nest
for a tired bird is air itself, cleaner than your conscience
that preferred her death over the fall again, and the fits.
a lone grain of dust coaxes from your eyes a confession
of unasked water held back for some other occasion :
when she sleeps there is a nightmare sleeping there
in a way you cannot even dream of : how an hourglass
looks like a brittle polygon of infinity and infinity
appears to be a balancing act of two teardrops.
when she returns and looks at you : a breathingtube
for a nosering, a hospital gown the color of fadedgrass
that splits nakedbrown at the back : you knew you had to
oar her drained boat of a smile to some shore where
she won’t lose herself to things you can’t understand.
say she wants a hole on her body where nothing happens
say her drool melts her chin into a smudged feather
her flesh pricked like a legostrip that fits in then falls apart
for a new design : more what’s broken than what broke it.
—from Ekphrastic Challenge
July 2022, Artist’s Choice
Comment from the artist, Jaundré van Breda: “I consider that a poem’s success, like a painting or piece of music, depends solely on the reader and what they get from it. Balancing act gave me more than I expected. It made me feel.”