Two Ekphrastic Poems — Susanna Lang



Studio Visit: New Work
          Ann Worthing

If you hold earth in your hands—
a clod of dirt from where you dug

in the garden—it will crumble
to dust. Light scatters

in the late afternoon, becomes
branches, leaves, a boy’s

skinned knee. If you look at anything
long enough—this tree, these

four boys—it falls apart.
They are playing beneath

the wide-armed tree, feet
floating in air, their faces

blank: they could be anyone’s
boys, they could be my boy

at that age, with his friends.
They could be light

refracted into color.
Memory does the work

of earthworms, breaks
the image down, so you see

the form that burns
within an angled ray of sun.


***


Woman with a Double Bass
          Suzanne Valadon

The room is mostly dark, though an unseen window
halos the woman

and her bass, the woman’s arm draped around the instrument
like a sister—

her hands, the bow, her impassive face, all bathed in light.
The woman’s skirt

drawn in at the waist, belling out to the ankles, a fiddle shape—
the fabric dark

as the fingerboard beneath the woman’s pale hand.
They are waiting

for the painter to finish. In a moment, they will begin to sing,
their deep voices

so closely harmonized, it will seem
they sing with one voice.


***


Susanna Lang’s most recent collection of poems, Tracing the Lines, was published in 2013 by the Brick Road Poetry Press. Her first collection, Even Now, was published in 2008 by The Backwaters Press, and a chapbook, Two by Two, was released in October 2011 from Finishing Line Press. She has published original poems and essays, and translations from French in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, The Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, The Green Mountains Review, The Baltimore Review, Kalliope, Southern Poetry Review, World Literature Today, Chicago Review, New Directions, and Jubilat. Book publications include translations of Words in Stone and The Origin of Language, both by Yves Bonnefoy. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches in the Chicago Public Schools.