“Gods, Monsters, and Complex PTSD” by Elizabeth Train-Brown

Ekphrastic Challenge, May 2021: Artist’s Choice


Contradictions of Being by Neena Sethia, image of a head, a leaf, and other shapes on a blue background

Image: “Contradictions of Being” by Neena Sethia. “Gods, Monsters, and Complex PTSD” was written by Elizabeth Train-Brown for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, May 2021, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Elizabeth Train-Brown


I feel unraveled
I feel like scripture
I feel like the words of prophets
torn apart
spread to countries that don’t care
what I have to say.

I feel like taking out the middle man
taking out the writer
the pen
the page
burrowing my face through the undergrowth
slithering through the cracks
of a confession booth
and whispering my sins
through a mouthful of leaves.

I feel like when someone drops a book
in a bath
and a touch of everything written in me
you can dry me
shake your bathwater from my spine
but I will never be the same
and you will always know the difference.

I feel like a woman’s words
    in a man’s book.
but in his voice.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
May 2021, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Neena Sethia: “I loved this poem because it talks so beautifully about voice and its various contradictions, language and translations and everything that gets lost in between. There are several memorable lines in this poem, but my favourite was its end: ‘I feel like a woman’s words in a man’s book. There, but in his voice.’ I think that these lines themselves encapsulate the whole painting.”

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