“Seeking Purpose” by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2019: Editor’s Choice


photo of letters left in a snowy tree

Image: “Bound” by Natalie Seabolt. “Seeking Purpose” was written by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2019, and selected as the Editor’s Choice.

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Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer


The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.
—Orison Swett Marden

There were no letters tucked in the trees today,
no handwritten notes tied with red string.
No epistles, no missives, no communiques.

Some days, a woman wishes the world
would be more direct, more intimate, would just tell her
her purpose, would spell it out in a language she knows.

Include sketches, clear directives. Write her name
on the envelopes so there can be no mistake.
Leave the letters in a place she will find them.

But no. Today, the only message in the trees
is snow. She tries to make meaning of it.
Laughs at the impulse. Reminds herself, Snow is snow.

Isn’t it like her to look for meaning?
Next thing you know, she’ll be looking
for a message in the clouds. In rivers. In books.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
December 2019, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “Maybe it’s that the photograph is so straightforward, but turning it into an image of what isn’t there was a brilliant choice that pushes the original content even further. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the universe really did send us messages this clear? But of course it doesn’t, a truth that now feels oddly empowering, thanks to the subtle tone of the poem. Let’s go out and make some meaning of our own.”

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