“To Lose and Catch the Trail” by Claire Kruesel

Ekphrastic Challenge, March 2016: Artist’s Choice


Collage by Thomas Terceira
Collage: “Metamorphosis 2” by Thomas Terceira. “To Lose and Catch the Trail” was written by Claire Kruesel for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, March 2016, and selected by Terceira as the Artist’s Choice winner.

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Claire Kruesel


Is it my job to flee, or yours to chase;
mine to constrict,
or yours to expand—like water

The first highway rivers:
boats in summer;
sleighs in winter

Water solidifies by growing apart
wings catch sky
between hooklets of feathers

Overlapping scales, articulated joints
Dipladenia opens
a carmine-red star

Lipstick, that animal color
my mother warns not to butcher the bird
or I will lose taste for flesh

(little deaths)
I cannot resist
origins, mechanisms, bound wings

Look how close we are
all the atoms
between us

A wave crests: down is both ways
and each feather
has two vanes

He bands my wrists; I buck up
water resisting
its unthawing—

Ancestors’ protests—muffled
by years, dirt
ochre’d hand

I would like to interview
the grasp
this dark corner

Or bleach myself in the window, anything
to finally evict
this spirit from the body.

Ekphrastic Challenge, March 2016
Artist’s Choice Winner

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Comment from the artist, Thomas Terceira: “I enjoyed reading the wonderful poems inspired my collage, ‘Metamorphosis 2.’ There are a lot of great poets out there and it was an honor to have been a source of inspiration for so many of them. I found myself most attracted to those poems that weren’t literally describing what was in the collage but went to unexpected places. Those poems, which emotionally and imaginatively resonated with the mood of the image to create something new, lived for me. The sound of the words in a poem, always interests me a great deal. I want to hear the beautiful music of the language resonating, like I want to take the eye on a journey when I make a collage. It was a difficult choice but I finally picked ‘To Loose and Catch the Trail’ as my favorite. I found myself returning to this poem again and again. This poem feels tight and crisp, every word important, not a word too many. It’s like an incantation, a surrealist dream and reveals more with each reading. So many wonderful vivid images are packed into ‘To Loose and Catch the Trail.'” (website)

Comment from the poet, Claire Kruesel: “What I love most about ‘Metamorphosis 2’ is the woman in the upper left-hand corner. She took the longest for me to notice, and I get the sense that she watched the piece come together around her. For all I know she was added last, but she (in my poem) is the observer to the imperfect world self-assembled to the whims of natural selection.”

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