“The Widower” by Nick Bertelson

Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2021: Editor’s Choice


Nature People #8 by Bruce McClain, pencil drawing of a man's portrait drawing himself from leaves

Image: “Nature People #8” by Bruce McClain. “The Widower” was written by Nick Bertelson for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, December 2021, and selected as the Editor’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Nick Bertelson


Leaves like grief
skulk through shadows.
Slubs of them swell
and stew, ground
to dust by dust,
death’s currency.
I watch him
—my hangdog neighbor—
coax them into piles.
He wields his
nightmarish rake,
eventually setting
the dead leaves alight.
Burning for a cold
moment, they whisper
and cackle as they did
when the wind
blew through
the boughs
they’ve now abandoned.
Truth is:
I have no neighbors
and I live a long ways
from everywhere.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
December 2021, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “In contrast to its surreality, the most striking feature of Bruce’s drawing are, to me, the eyes. I’m convinced this poem has told their story.”

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