March 26, 2020

Ekphrastic Challenge, February 2020: Artist’s Choice


photograph of billboard with posters peeling to reveal previous layers, including a young child with curly hair

Image: “Indietro” by Marc Alan Di Martino. “They Tried to Cover Her Up” was written by Stephanie Shlachtman for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, February 2020, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Stephanie Shlachtman


She witnessed the induction of matter
into everything, and they, too, witnessed
the induction of matter into everything;
a constitution for the cosmos. But that was
eons ago when the quiet creases

in her dress were fresh, the hemline a
proper length. (They were afraid of those
curls: Those curls would turn to spider silk
in fifteen years or so; a girl who can look you
in the eyes speaks volumes—too

loud.) And now, Canis Major endeavors
to ascribe her effulgence to its unfettered
glow, now that she, too, is a constellation. Now
that she, too, can fill the space without

apology. How did night not see her (of course,
it did) on the lens of a telescope, when
“all luminaries” did not mean “all luminaries,”
when her painted elements were immured
by skylights in a nebula. When her little lights

cried, her older ones, too. When her little lights
died, her older ones, too, because of
disproportional brushstrokes, because of
unequal distances to and from the sun.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
February 2020, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Marc Alan Di Martino: “What stopped me in my tracks were the last lines: ‘because of / disproportional brushstrokes, because of / unequal distances to and from the sun.’ Is it a veiled social critique, a treatise on painting, or an essay on cosmology? Perhaps it’s all three together, which is why it has to be a poem.”

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