“In the Nostalgia Chair” by Matthew Murrey

Ekphrastic Challenge, April 2019: Artist’s Choice


Kandinsky's Slippers by Denise Zygadlo

Image: “Kandinsky’s Slippers” by Denise Zygadlo. “In the Nostalgia Chair” was written by Matthew Murrey for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, April 2019, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Matthew Murrey


I unfold Florida
days when I had my first
apartment, when I plugged in
a second-hand record player
and listened to my life.
It was small town, good
walking in the waking
morning while the sun
reinvented the horizon,
good night strolls
where stars kept track
above wires leaves and moss
and churches were dark
empty, unlocked, and holy.
We had some times:
that night of wine, that morning
of coffee and rain. One time
we smoked and couldn’t stop
laughing after we’d stared
at each other until you said
“I’m not feeling it.”
And when I was alone
and holy, nights were for falling,
Look Homeward Angel, asleep.
That was a different state,
a thousand novels ago. It’s a lie
to say I never looked back.
I still think about Keith Jarett
and the radio in the kitchen
and a bridge over a brown river
and a red-brick train station
and an afternoon of blue
thunder and broken branches.
Remember how the blinds
divvied up beauty on the wall
near the end of so many days,
and how green the world was
when we opened them? They
have fallen apart, like lovers,
like the loafers I wore when you left,
the ones, I’m sorry to say,
I threw away a long time ago.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
April 2019, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Denise Zygadlo: “I found this poem very evocative; it created an atmosphere I felt went well with the image and took us beyond it into another world. The poet beckons us into his past and shares those important moments that lodge in his memory, without giving too much away, so that we find ourselves sitting in that deckchair reflecting with the sitter and composing our own pictures. In my collage it was Kandinsky, but it could be anyone transporting us into a world of nostalgia. I love that it summoned up such a rich love story for the poet, whilst retaining the essential elements of the image; the blinds, the loafers and the sense of a Florida landscape amongst palm trees. I also have a past with Keith Jarett records and liked how the allusions at the beginning of the poem were picked up at the end. Very lovely, well done Mr. Murrey, thank you.”

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