“Time Travel” by Alida Rol

Ekphrastic Challenge, July 2019: Artist’s Choice


Photo from Elsewhere by B.A. Van Sise, two cows with jet flying overhead

Image: “Restricted | U.S. Air Force” by B.A. Van Sise from his “Elsewhere” series. “Time Travel” was written by Alida Rol for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, July 2019, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Alida Rol


We served our sentence
under the city’s insomniac glare,
by the racket of garbage trucks
and the screams of all-night sirens,
racked up paychecks and overtime
to the smell of pissed-on
asphalt baked in swampy heat.
After the punishment
of never alone but too often
lonely, we left for the country, took
custody of a glowering sky,
the withering glances of bare trees,
a house full of dust and
crumbled hope. We
have no idea what to do
with the silos, their stern
concrete, or how we’ll feed
the sheep in snow. Feral cats
possess the outbuilding, so we’ve kept
its one door closed. When a pair
of cow-eyed Herefords, the docile
bulk of them, stares at us
like aliens, we understand
we are. We gawk in awe
at their foreignness and
see ourselves. Tonight
we make love in the barn
despite the dark, our animal
scent in the air, ears already
callousing to the growl
of planes overhead. Contrails
spike our dreams, but we vow
by day to tread a gentler and less
breathless path. We will warm
to the neighbors despite
their reminders that Herefords
are raised for slaughter. Come
spring we’ll spin our wool, bring
the neighbors fresh laid
eggs, tomatoes in the summer.
We will often be alone.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
July 2019, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, B.A. Van Sise: “Alida Rol brought a sense of visual thinking to the piece that was, as an artist, hard to pass up, building an interior world that feels palpable, rowdy to all senses: you can smell the asphalt, you can feel the dust on your fingers, you can hear the city disgorging its noise, sirens raising Cain as they bring people you don’t like to places you don’t want to be. It tells a tale we all know already—we scorn our mundane, seek out something better, something different, try to find beauty elsewhere. But it also gives the reader a lesson, surely unwanted but sorely needed: the grass isn’t always greener. In fact, the grass isn’t even green, and maybe there is, in the end, just no grass at all.”

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