The Shadow People: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day14

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.

41 thoughts on “The Shadow People: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day14

  1. 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.

  2. 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.”

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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