Day 1, Annual Poetry Month Ekphrastic Challenge

Day 1: Inspired by all 4 artworks.


I was a boy, a prince in a fairytale world
destroyed by death’s-head invaders.
The magpie–one for sorrow–
followed me across the sea
to remind me I was alone, but so was he,
alone together

like so many. The green mounds and chalk downs
became my refuge, this foreign fossil-filled soil
fertilized love and fostered hearts—bandaging
mine, strengthening me with a steady diet of affection.

What’s left of my hair is grey now,
my stouter step supported by a stick.
I walk through my memories, the hill where I stumbled,
the dale where I proposed—

this is home now. The squeak of garden gate,
the kaleidoscope of blooms—and butterflies.
A magpie couple call to each other—I think,
two for joy.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge featuring the work of artists Aaron Bowker, Beth Brooke, Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad, and Sara Fatima Mir. You can see today’s art and poems here.

For some reason that I can’t explain, the man in the Aaron Bowker’s sketch made me think of my blogger-friend Derrick Knight’s friend Wolf, who had arrived in England as part of the Kindertransport. The poem is not about Wolf, but perhaps someone like him.

26 thoughts on “Day 1, Annual Poetry Month Ekphrastic Challenge

  1. I missed this one. I like your interpretation of the images. Perhaps that’s how it was for you wanderer. It must have been for some of the refugees. The Jewish kids weren’t welcomed in the UK . The Kindertransport brought out very few before it ran out of funds and the kids were only accepted on a temporary basis. It was intended that they would go back to Germany. Anti-Jewish feeling was high. People assumed they were Germans. Not a very glorious episode.

    • Thank you!
      It just so strange that I felt that this was this man in the sketch’s story. It’s like with the Oracle, best not to argue.

      The Kindertransport was too little, but it was something. Here in the US we refused to help many at all, and then after Pearl Harbor, we locked up the Japanese.

      • The Kindertransport is one of those beautiful humanitarian ideas that we have made a myth around, taking the credit for it when in fact almost every foreign power would have nothing to do with it at the time. Jews have always been disliked and despised. Thank you, Christianity.
        P.S. Charles Kingsley despised them too. Not quite as much as the Irish though who he called ‘white chimpanzees’.

      • I did read a bit about the book and how he despised them.
        There’s a recent report on the rise of anti-Semitism in the Philadelphia region. Some things never change.

      • One of the reasons I refuse to join any sectarian club. Generalisations and prejudices are not the monopoly of so-called right-wing groups, they are in every single sector of every single society. Kingsley is a very good example of someone who was admirable in one aspect of what he stood for, and a blindly prejudiced nasty-piece-of-work in many of his other beliefs.

  2. I really like this Merril. “I walk through my memories” is such a good description of aging. To be uprooted and then grow new roots…that is a gift. (K)

  3. Thank you so much, Merril. This could have been about anyone with a similar story – I am so pleased that Wolf’s inspired you. You couldn’t have known that he lost most of his hair when a very young man – I never knew him when he had it all. Your last verse brings a glow of hope.

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