It amazes me that this got a few likes yesterday! I thought I was being sneaky, just working on revising and editing this rough draft that was part of a NaPoWriMo prompt almost three years ago! But even though I did not save the draft, somehow someone must have seen activity there. Either that or it’s a tremendous coincidence that it just got its first “like” while I was revising it. In any case, I made a comment about it, which drew more attention and now it has four likes.
Kind of embarrassing really, but this could also be educational for me. The reason I was revisiting the poem was because we were talking about ekphrastic poetry at our last Poetry Under the Paintings gathering. John Drury’s Poetry Dictionary defines ekphrastic poetry this way: “Poetry that imitates, describes, critiques, dramatizes, reflects upon, or otherwise responds to a work of nonliterary art, especially the visual.” My attempt was on Annie Leibovitz’s “Pocahontas,” pictured below.
You see, we meet at a gallery called Faustina’s in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and we read poems, our own as well as other favorites. Sometimes there is music, acoustic, keyboard or rhythm on the drums. But we had only one poet read poems about paintings so far, and I thought we should honor our atmosphere and host at this event for our April, National Poetry Month event.
So this poem came to mind and I thought I’d dig it up to read. Unfortunately, I felt it needed a lot of work and it wasn’t ready last week to be my example of ekphrasis. So here below is the new version and here is the link to the original. Maybe I revised too much? Maybe you like the original better. Or perhaps you think the revision is a good one. Either way, since I am not as personally invested in this piece the way I might be about others, if you have time, why not share your thoughts in the comments. What works and why? What doesn’t and why not? I’d be truly honored if anyone were to choose to make commentary. Like I said, it could be a good learning experience, especially for me.
On Jessica Beil as Pocahontas
with dark hair, and feet
just dirty enough to be sexy;
a confused young doe in tow.
This is not your grandmother’s
Pocahontas. Her hair in the wind,
I get that. Her skimpy clothes
made of animal skin, why not?
Jessica does Disney. You can’t
expect a proper history here.
Yet leaves falling are blurred,
as something is already
fading into the past, a way
of life, slipping away before
they even hit the ground.
The ship in the distance
carries Captain Smith, foretells
adventure, romance, death.
But is the deer fleeing something or
chasing her? Too calm to be
leaping from the fire with Bambi.
The Indian Princess, her face
vacant or confident, only
appears to heed the warning;
“Run! Return to the woods–
don’t let them find you.”
Perhaps the doe runs in hopes
of heading Barbie off, away from
a future penthouse, suits and shoes,
back to the medicine of berries and roots.
The clouds are dark in the foreground,
with ambiguous breaks of sky
beyond the boat. History runs
toward, or from desire.
A forest on fire craves rain;
A Lightning storm ignites a flame.
© 2013 by David J. Bauman