“Calendario” by Devon Balwit

Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2016: Artist’s Choice


Photo by Ilenia Pezzaniti
Photograph: “They All Slept Here” by Ilenia Pezzaniti. “Calendario” was written by Devon Balwit for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2016, and selected by Pezzaniti as the Artist’s Choice winner.

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Devon Balwit


They said they would come back,
but they didn’t.

Sometimes, their money comes,
but never as much as abuela wishes.

I ask the umbrella ladies about el norte,
but they always answer with unfriendly backs.

The TV could tell me,
but Jorge only half-fixed it.

Abuela wants me to change their sheets,
but the fallen plaster is my calendar.

Sometimes, I hear their voices in the night,
but it’s just more ceiling dust adding to the weeks.

Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2016
Artist’s Choice Winner

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Comment from the artist, Ilenia Pezzaniti, on her selection: “’Calendario’ feels. There’s a slow rise and burn of my skin every time I read it. There’s a truth in its fiction, a grace in its vision. So much complexity put simply, with punches that deliver flowers. It does not tell, it shows; it lays on the bed next to me and understands. The emotion and tone is just right, walking the line between the hope and hopelessness I felt the day I stood in that room: a stagnant sadness coupled with children’s laughter, a depression but making the best of it, a hard worked life and then abandoning all of it in a rush, saying you’ll return but knowing that’s a lie. It inspires. I feel close to this poet. ‘… but they always answer with unfriendly backs,’ ‘but the fallen plaster is my calendar,’—brilliant.” (website)

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