“Self-Portrait” by Rodrigo Dela Pena, Jr.

Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2019: Artist’s Choice


Belle of the Ball by Vasu Tolia

Image: “Belle of the Ball” by Vasu Tolia. “Self-Portrait” was written by Rodrigo Dela Pena, Jr. for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2019, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Rodrigo Dela Pena, Jr.


If I am turned away
from you, it is because
I am giving my attention
to the distance, that vanishing
point where all lines converge.
If I am outlined while all
around me is a blur
of pastel pinks and soft
purples, it only means
that stillness takes the shape
of what the heart longs for
in silence. Imagine
my face, a life hidden
between dreaming and waking
up, between childhood and old
age. I am the woman
whose breath is the air no one
can see, whose hem reaches
the ground beneath my feet.
I gather what colors slip
through my fingers. I fill
each minute to empty
it back, each moment beating
again and again and again.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
January 2019, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Vasu Tolia: “I felt like ‘Self-Portrait’ recreated the magic I had felt conceiving and creating this painting. The way this poet captures the lines depicting the blur and sharpness and describes the hues of the paints so vividly in simple words touched me the most. The poise, purpose, and dilemma in this woman’s mind are also beautifully blended in this poem. It opened my eyes to the notion that unconsciously, I was portraying a version of myself.”

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