“The Shape of Your Elbow” by Jack McGavick

Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2018: Artist’s Choice


The Sound of Wings by Gretchen Rockwell

Image: “The Sound of Wings” by Gretchen Rockwell. “The Shape of Your Elbow” was written by Jack McGavick for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, June 2018, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Jack McGavick


all roads lead here so it’s no surprise
under a hot sun the wad of gum
on the cobblestone rebecomes its chewy self
everything’s milling the everything grist
of the big city so dark so inky on the map
how could you have missed its eddying current
above the sucking of the drain just days ago
I stood with the dish soap in one hand
scrub brush in the other when it happened
just like that—pigeons bloom
newly unique from their milling
like the flock of bubbles caught
for a second in my kitchen window
before I flung myself car-first
down the interstate to see you
apparently in a park
surrounded by pigeons in bloom
the metaphor long pollinated
some pigeon kits survive the shift
withstand that sudden jostle
and some can’t bear the pull
of all that impossible space
the new shafts of light on the cobblestones
every time I blink I’m sure you’re gone

from Ekphrastic Challenge
June 2018, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Gretchen Rockwell: “What a difficult choice to make! I had a hard time with the decision, but ultimately I’ve decided to select ‘The Shape of Your Elbow’ as my author’s pick. I love the striking and vivid imagery and the poet’s use of noun- and verb-play in this poem, from pigeons blooming to that beautiful line about’everything’s milling the everything grist.’ Something about the visceral detail and sound of this poem hooked me—by the time I reached the final line, I too was searching for what I feared to be obscured, lost.”

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