Today’s assignment for Summer Poetry Boot Camp is to write a poem from an image. One of my favorite artists working today is Carrie Ann Baade. I visited her latest collection, Tales of Passion and Woe, looking for inspiration and, naturally, was inspired by the very first painting I looked at! Even the painting’s title, The Parable of the Anvil and Garter, is inspiring, don’t you think?
The problem I’ve been having with poems lately is their tendancy to morph into stories, or narrative. But not just any narrative…they are all taking root in magical realism. Which is fine, actually one of my favorite forms, but I’m having trouble telling tales. I suppose I just have to take what comes.
The Parable of the Anvil and Garter
After a painting by Carrie Ann Baade
I waited all night by the window for you,
hero, you and your white steed,
but you never arrived.
I would have mounted even a black horse
had you ridden up on purity’s dark seed–
any horse in a storm, brute muscle and sweat
saving me from lightning, hail, electricity gone wrong.
Meanwhile, the dishes piled up, dinner scorched
in the womb of the oven missing its controls
and the children straggled in with a rusty anvil
recovered from the neighbor’s garbage.
Without the steady hoof beat of rescue
to march by, flying seems the only option.
Outside, in an absurd reversal of strength,
a single raven flees a host of sparrows
giant predator diving and swerving
to avoid the sting of lesser beaks.
Leaving the house in blue garter and bustier
proves much easier than explaining why I am astride
a gleaming metal weight, why the very burden meant to drag
me down is allowing me to soar above the mossy rooftop.
Every parable has a moral. Draw conclusions at your own risk.