“Why I Love that We’re Not Gods” by Sean Keck

Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2022: Editor’s Choice


Dark Figures by Matthew King, photograph of a figure surrounded by gulls

Image: “Dark Figures” by Matthew King. “Why I Love that We’re Not Gods” was written by Sean Keck for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, January 2022, and selected as the Editor’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Sean Keck


If we could live all time at once,
there’d be no room for words
in that total lack of silence.

The sky, grown thick with birds
trailing themselves like film frames,
would buckle and heave, spurred

along by wind and flames,
competing moons and stars,
bodies no longer named

on any legible charts.
Buried beneath thunder
of innumerable heart-

beats half off, under
the weight of too many
todays, we’d wander

nowhere and there. Any-
where you turned
there’d be a litany

of you and me, churned
into an us of each of us,
two we who learn

nothing because the cup
of our choices
is already filled up

with overflowing voices
of every grace and sin
we’d done or do. Noises

all about. The love we’re in,
in that total lack of silence,
won’t end but won’t begin.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
January 2022, Editor’s Choice


Comment from the editor, Timothy Green: “This mind-bending poem compresses time into a single point where our entire lives happen all at once in a silent, frozen time-lapse. It’s a fascinating interpretation of the photograph, worthy of several reads on its own, but the gorgeous musicality of the poem is what put it over the top for me. It’s a layered, memorable, and surprising response.”

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