“Vast Silence” by Sally Cobau

Ekphrastic Challenge, March 2020: Artist’s Choice


photograph in black and white of concrete stairs with children drawing in chalk

Image: “Cour des Voraces” by Kenneth Borg. “Vast Silence” was written by Sally Cobau for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, March 2020, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Sally Cobau


The girls scribble:
Large O,
Demented D,
Curly, swirly S, an elegant
Muse in iron.
The wide ass of the X,
Smack in your face,
The mice skittering up the Z’s.
The triangle of purity, a gate, the shape of your
Yawn, the unstoppable

Force of the letters—
The rolling pins
Of movement,
Spiraling, the cortex/the bulb
The hum of the machine: needle, bobbin.

The girls working in the shadows.
We don’t hear running,
But we almost hear it.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
March 2020, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Kenneth Borg: “I liked the playfulness with the letters; it was as if they were embossed letters and I’m touching the protruding curves, straight lines and the sharp and pointy edges—all emulating the various concrete shapes and forms in the photograph. Not only that, but it weaves in the presence of the girls, flaring up the letters with unassuming, unexpected and dislocated items, creating a vortex of sounds and imagery, typical of such buildings and enclosed spaces. Yet, it’s uncanny, with a somehow unnerving placidity, ending the poem on a dark note which seems to imply something sinister may be lurking underneath this muted hubbub (reflecting the mysterious figure emerging from down beneath perhaps?). It felt like a palette of colours, starting from light, bright colours and ending with dark, enigmatic and murky tones.”

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