“Image of a Woman Along a Sidewalk” by Jason Brunner

Untold Stories by Judith Fox, collage photograph of woman with a door lock over her face

Image: “Untold Stories” by Judith Fox. “Image of a Woman Along a Sidewalk” was written by Jason Brunner for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2023, and selected as the Editor’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Jason Brunner


“She’s too pretty to be missing,”
my father said as we walked past the poster,
in that offhanded way that made my cheek twitch.
I wondered what malady made him say it—
maybe an old fleck of lead paint had lodged itself
in just the right part of his brain,
or he was choking on his own Adam’s apple
and didn’t think to cover his mouth.
Not ten steps into my speculation,
he stopped to talk to a shop owner
who was installing new locks on her door,
and she gestured across the street
to a vape shop with a plastic tarp
taped over its missing center pane.
It shuddered in the wind
with the same enthusiasm
as a sheet of glass in the moment
that a rock strikes it, and it shatters.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
June 2023, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the series editor, Megan O’Reilly: “What first caught my eye in this poem was the author’s depiction of the subject of this artwork as a missing person. The figure in Fox’s piece has a look in her eyes that strikes me as both haunted and searching, as if the victim of some unknown horror, which made it easy to envision this enigmatic face on a missing person poster. I was also impressed by the line ‘he was choking on his own Adam’s apple / and didn’t think to cover his mouth’ and how it parallels the image of the door keyhole as a mouth. What will stay with me most, though, is the quietly philosophical nature of the last two stanzas–the idea of the aftermath of a violent act having ‘the same enthusiasm’ as the act itself.”

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