“Four Loaves of Stone, Ascending” by Joel Vega

Ekphrastic Challenge, October 2020: Editor’s Choice


Black and white photograph of a cairn of smooth stones with a bird in the background

Image: “Dream Spirit” by Christopher Whitney. “Four Loaves of Stone, Ascending” was written by Joel Vega for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, October 2020, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Joel Vega


Even Noah, stepping out
of the Ark, the world stretching
out from his feet in a mighty
display of infinite water—
even he, picking up
the first four loaves of stone,
his faith shaken, querying:
What shred of cloth
can wrap this naked
body? What terror
or bliss will rise
from the receding
tides? But the new
earth speaks
a new language.
Come here, it says,
Come here, then.
Gather beneath a sky
bereft of stars.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
October 2020, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “As much as possible, I try to choose a poem each month that’s different from the artist’s choice, so that this series can show the breadth of human imagination. It worked out well this time, as the two poems couldn’t be more different in length, style, and interpretation. I loved the timeless beauty of Joel Vega’s response, and the haunting ambiguity of those last few lines. The title alone could be a poem, and you’d be hard pressed to find a phrase more pleasurable to speak than ‘loaves of stone.’ I found myself returning just to say that phrase aloud again.”

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