“Heavenly-Blue Morning Glory” by Dion O’Reilly

Take Heart by 
Bonnie Riedinger, abstract painting with blue on top and gold on bottom

Image: “Take Heart” by Bonnie Riedinger. “Heavenly-Blue Morning Glory” was written by Dion O’Reilly for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2022, and selected as the Artist’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Dion O’Reilly


You know those moments
when you’re young, dumb-
struck by the sight of something,
the air undone by mist and naked
sunlight as you pace the tracks
in Seattle for no reason,
save the oily light,
the peel of moon, coy
between the clouds.
Sure, you feel the same
old disaster, the same sadness
about sadness.
That’s a given, but then,
you’re hit by a fit
of chromatic blue. Hunger-
blue, blind-blue, squeezing
the high fence
like a host of baby-faced
pythons, so cerulean, so rare,
in the dripping freeze,
so necessary and painful
after months of gray
restraint, gray as the gray hair
around your mother’s near-dead face,
your hand released, finally, from her
pressed fingers, her furious fist.
It’s the first time you notice—
like the open throat of desire,
the tapped vein—
how much you want the world.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
September 2022, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Bonnie Riedinger: “I was looking for a poem that moved me, showed the poet’s appreciation for the sound and rhythm of language, created fresh, vivid images, and captured the essence of my painting. ‘Heavenly-Blue Morning Glory’ ticked all the boxes. The unexpected comparison of flowers squeezing the fence and baby pythons provided an effective link to the pressures at the end of poem (the restraint of months, and the mother’s pressed fingers and furious fist). Cerulean as it follows pythons takes on a slithery sound; repeated assonance provides cohesion; the homonym of freeze/frieze unites art and words. Used judiciously, word repetition, alliteration, and hard rhyme provide emotional and rhythmic punches (‘hungerblue,’ ‘blind-blue,’ ‘sadness about sadness’). The last three lines nailed it—uniting the open throat of the flowers, the consuming desire of the baby pythons, the mother’s furious desire and the speaker’s desire for the world. The poem expresses beautifully what I hoped viewers would see in the painting as well as standing on its own as an evocative and well crafted poem.”

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