During National Poetry Month, I got a poem in my email from Knopf Poetry called "Flowers," by Cynthia Zarin. It ended like this:
It seemed especially important
not to spill the coffee as I usually
do, as I turned up the stairs,
inside the whorl of the house as if
I were walking up inside the lilies.
I do not know how to hold all
the beauty and sorrow of my life.
You can read the whole poem here.
It's true; holding all the beauty and sorrow of life is never easy, and this week was a doozy. So that's a bit about where my mind was as I worked on the prompt for May from the Poetry Peeps, which I read about here. It involves writing an ekphrastic poem using a photo you've taken at a museum. I have so many of that kind of photo, from so many museum visits through the years. I picked out several, and I think I'll go on writing them for a while, but here's one I wrote this week.
I took this photo in 2014 at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The photo is blurry - I took it with my iPod - but I like it better than the much better photo you can see here at the Cleveland Museum of Art's website, because their photo doesn't have my kids in it. In addition to looking at their website, I watched a video you'll find at that link, called "On My Mind: Monet's Water Lilies," in which Heather Lemonedes Brown talks about how much the painting means for her as she's isolating at home.
So here's the poem, or at least a first draft of it:
Water Lilies, Cleveland Museum of Art
for a moment.
Look at the
doesn’t go away
while you look at
It’s still there,
right outside the garden.
Monet could hear the guns from the front
as war raged.
But he kept painting
Kept thinking of a future
when all these
would be in one room
for people to stare at,
for a moment.