“Cut Out” by Sandra Nelson

Dream House, Later by Susan MacMurdy, collage of a house on a calendar

Image: “Dream House, Later” by Susan MacMurdy. “Cut Out” was written by Sandra Nelson for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2023, and selected as the Editor’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Sandra Nelson


The façade
of thingness floats
over the void.
A blizzard
of nothingness
blows sideways.
Even the heart
huddled in a paper
house shudders.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
January 2023, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Megan O’Reilly: “I can’t quite wrap my head around Sandra Nelson’s poem ‘Cut Out,’ and that’s what I love about it. Each stanza feels almost like a koan, surprising and meditative; they seem to invite the reader to understand with the soul rather than the mind. There is a lovely contradiction in Susan MacMurdy’s piece, in that the image feels highly textured and full of depth while also strikingly, beautifully simple. I sense a similar contrast in the images of ‘Cut Out’: ‘A blizzard of nothingness,’ ‘paper house shudders.’ Both poem and image fascinate me, and I appreciate the way they add new layers of intrigue to one another.”

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