“This Room” by Devon Balwit

Ekphrastic Challenge, November 2021: Artist’s Choice


Easy Like Sunday Morning Shannon Jackson, photograph of light coming into a bedroom through sheer curtains

Image: “Easy Like Sunday Morning” by Shannon Jackson. “This Room” was written by Devon Balwit for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, November 2021, and selected as the Artist’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Devon Balwit


He asks to make love, and because he asks, I do,
though my aging desire has turned instead to

the bedside table, to the London Review
of Books, to the now sexier pursuit

of end rhymes and long walks through
leaf-blaze. I’d never thought it true

that the fathomless lust of thirty-two
could silt and still. Now, I must brew

it up if I want it. It’s not you,
I hasten to tell him, unclewing

his anxiety and letting the breeze undo
it. How much earnest whispering this room

has witnessed—plans to make new
life, plans to help failing parents move

to their last dependency, rue
at lost chances, the shy wooing

of new ones—this, too,
what lovers do between the sheets. The view

from the window doesn’t get old, the moon,
and morning peeking in, the bed imbued

with both solemnity and mirth, the glue
that binds us, like two ancient, tangled yews.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
November 2021, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Shannon Jackson: “It was both thrilling and fascinating, and felt a great privilege indeed, to read through the poems inspired by my photograph. Each one impacted me for different reasons, but I chose ‘This Room’ for its personal resonance. Photography is most often a strictly felt experience for me—and usually what moves me to click the shutter is seeing, or feeling, something extraordinary in a seemingly ordinary moment. I felt this poem did much the same for me. Using the simple imagery and moments of a life, as well as the narrator’s personal confessions and musings, the poet speaks to the kind of love that is perhaps only possible at a certain age and stage of life, but which, given such duration, contains a multitude of layers and complexities. It left me pondering the extraordinariness in what might seem an otherwise ordinary love and life together.”

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