“Faces in the Clouds” by Devon Balwit

Ekphrastic Challenge, February 2021: Artist’s Choice


Cloud Dance by Claire Ibarra, photo of birds and trees in silhouette against a lake, mirrored on the surface of the water

Image: “Cloud Dance” by Claire Ibarra. “Faces in the Clouds” was written by Devon Balwit for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, February 2021, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Devon Balwit


Each day, we wake again if we are lucky,
reassembling with only minor variations.

Too many, and we are no longer ourselves.
Too few, and we despair, the symmetry
uncanny. Like fractals, we fissure

at regular intervals, blind to our beauty,
the larger patterns we are part of. We must look

outside ourselves to discover what we are, to see
our lungs in the naked maples, our faces

in the clouds. Small, we are no small thing
as we wake again daily, lucky,

at almost regular intervals, beautiful and blind
to our honeycomb, our nautilus chamber,
our bowed self and its Chladni patterns.

We mustn’t worry if we cannot make it out.
Our beauty doesn’t depend on our knowing.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
February 2021, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Claire Ibarra: “For me, the theme of renewal as an integral part of our human condition is portrayed in ‘Faces in the Clouds.’ It reveals the struggle, but also recognizes the beauty in that effort. As the poem states ‘finding perfect symmetry,’ the image and the poem seem in harmony with each other. The idea of fissure and reassembly adds a sense of motion to the image. Also, I’m struck by the last line of the poem, somehow heartbreaking and yet hopeful at the same time.”

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