“The Room as We See It” by Andrew Payton

Unsatisfied Externals by J. Stormer, etching of a room in still life in green and yellow, with a square section in black and white suggesting a different time

Image: “Unsatisfied Externals” by J. Stormer. “The Room as We See It” was written by Andrew Payton for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2022, and selected as the Artist’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Andrew Payton


In the memory of the room
we find a doorway
to seeing the room as it is,
as we had left it.
We find a doorway
framed in revisions,
as we had left it
open to correction.
Framed in revisions
we accept what shadows
open to correction
in the light show of sleep.
We accept the shadows
outside the photograph.
In the light show of sleep,
sunlight is liberated.
Outside the photograph
we dress the room in color.
Sunlight is liberated
through a window opened.
We dress the room in color,
in the memory of the room.
Through a window opened
to seeing the room as it is.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
December 2022, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, J. Stormer: “I am astounded by the variety of thoughts and emotions that my print inspired in the poems submitted to this challenge. It was especially interesting to see what details others found compelling. Although there are a few poets and poems I have appreciated over the years, I have never formally studied poetry, or any form of literature. So, my choice is entirely subjective without reference to any criterion other than resonance with my personal and idiosyncratic feelings. All the poems I saw were interesting, and there were several that made choosing a single poem almost impossible. I think poetry is really meant to be heard, so I read the poems aloud to myself, and the way the poems sounded to me was also important in the final choice. This print is unique in my mostly representational body of work. It was inspired by a vague memory of things seen when I was too young (according to the experts) to have memories. Perhaps this was a dream then. The central etching was done first, but did not catch the feeling of the memory as I experienced it. Many months later, experimenting with colographs, I came up with the outer, more abstract part of the image, which to me suggests the dreamlike state. This poem, for me, captures the idea of of things seen with incomplete remembrance and subject to mental revision.”

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