It began—after The Before. You remember?
When the world was colored with optimism,
primary colors and pastels, sun-spackled roofs, rose gardens,
blue skies? Even the winter ice sparkled with trapped starlight.
We went to work and school and shows,
traveling on buses and trains through the city.
I used to make up stories about the people we saw in the windows—
the little girl with the dandelion, the woman
who danced in a red dress? All those windows dark now.
Please say you remember.
Then cough by cough, the world turned greyer.
The flowers lost their brilliant hues, fragrances disappeared.
And the shadow people came.
They walked out of my dreams
to gather around the TV set–strangely drawn to it.
They follow me now, almost eagerly, like ghost puppies.
They have no faces, but they look like me. Haunted.
For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 14, I was inspired by all three works of art. You can read all the poems here.
You were ‘haunted’ by Kerfe’s painting too. Your poem starts off so bright and breezy, and it ends on such an unsettling note.
Thank you–yes, I was.
Shadows people are a thing in horror stories, as well as being a good metaphor. 😀
They are! And the image is so disturbing too!
Those of us who struggle with facial recognition issues in the first place have been massively stymied by the masks. I keep fearing I’m going to run into someone I SHOULD recognize under ANY circumstance, and fail, simultaneously embarrassing myself and hurting their feelings. Most folks know I struggle, thank God.
Great ekphrastic, Merril.
Thanks so much, Ron.! It’s interesting where my poem led you. I’m not great about recognizing people either.
Reblogged this on The Wombwell Rainbow.
Thank you, Paul!
Ghost puppies! I like this thought. It makes it less horrible. Because yes, it’s how you say…
Thank you so much! Yes, ghost puppies seem more benign than shadow people. 😀
This poem made me think of lines attributed to Carl Sandburg. I don’t know if they are his, but they fit your ekphrastic theme today: “Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance.”
Interesting, Marian. Thank you!
This may be a logical progression through the works of art, but hopefully it will never come to pass.
Thank you, Ken. Hopefully not.
Wonderful, Merril. I enjoyed reading this one. By the way, your photos on IG were gorgeous today!
Thank you so much about the poem and photos. 😀
Wow! This read like a utopian novel, Merril. You’ve got such great depth of emotions. ❤️
Thank you so much, Colleen! 💙
We have all becoming shadow people of sorts this last year, but on a deeper level I sense this relates to those who have died from covid. Lest we forget.
Thank you, Ingrid. I wanted to leave it open to interpretation, but you are right about this past year.
So very beautifully topical
Thank you very much, Derrick.
This is a devastating poem. I felt every word of it. Haunted.
Thank you so much, Liz!
You’re welcome, Merril!
This scares the heck out of me. Dystopian, and yet, too close for comfort. Well done my poetic friend. You always bring TRUTH and FEAR and LOVE close at hand in your poetry.
What a wonderful compliment! Thank you, Pam. Sorry for the scares though. 😏 I listen to horror podcasts, and shadow people are a thing.
Aha. Shadow people scare me! And I’m afraid they are around….
They might be!😳
Perhaos we can scare ourselves out of this future. (K)
Perhaps so. . .
Oh my, Merril… that went from joyous to dark and foreboding rather brilliantly – and I so hate the word dystopia but oy…
Thank you so much, Dale! Shadow people are scary. 😀
I guess dystopia gets overused, but if it fits. . .
And, I swear it is. I know it fits but I’ll use any other word to mean the same!
I think the last line–They have no faces, but they look like me. Haunted.–is the most chilling. Your poem has the essence of horror: being haunted by shadow people and (perhaps) the fear of becoming one of them. The pandemic has been and still is a horror movie that just won’t stop playing.
Thank you. I think I scared myself a bit!😀
And yes, you’re right about the pandemic.
I love that you scared yourself a bit 😊
This is how the world has felt to me since the beginning of the pandemic, Merrill; you’ve been in my head and pulled out my thoughts. I love the way you juxtapose the before and after in the stanza about the windows, and the shift introduced by the phrase ‘cough by cough, the world turned greyer’. A haunting ekphrastic poem.
Thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment, Kim. I appreciate that–especially on this busy day!