Three figures huddle in the frame,
one, with a needle, delves for
the “headache stone,” said
to be buried in the soft folds
of the brain. Another holds a candle,
shedding both light and shadow.
The patient clenches his fists
against the pain.
The one who bears the flame
has been a recent patient. A linen
bandage binds his hair, stiff, straw-
yellow as the bristles of a broom.
He and the others take their turns
at playing surgeon. Each bears
a pocketful of bloody pebbles
to show patients the product
of their search.
—From the poet’s book manuscript Picture This, which is available
Stone Operation (An Allegory of the Sense of Touch)*
Original oil on panel (ca. 1624-25) by Dutch Golden Age painter
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) resides in
(New York), one of the largest private collections of Dutch
art in the world.
is the author of four books of poetry, including an ekphrastic chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections: Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014). She has also edited three anthologies: The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014); Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees, which was published as a special issue of Poemeleon Journal; and The Plague Papers, recently published online at Poemeleon Journal.
Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including Aeolian Harp VI, Book of Matches, Cultural Daily, Gargoyle, Live Encounters, Muddy River Review, North of Oxford, Rhino, Tampa Review, Tiferet, Verdad, and Verse-Virtual. She is an elected member of the Academy of American Poets.
Author’s website: www.robbinester.net
After Blossom, ekphrastic poem after an etching
by Phil Greenwood in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 3, May 2020)
Three Poems by Robbi Nester in Verse-Virtual (January
of Attraction, ekphrastic poem after Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the
Rhone, in Verse-Virtual (May 2019)
Night Tunnel, ekphrastic poem after a painting by Robert Rhodes,
Philadelphia Night Train, in The Ekphrastic Review (21 April 2016)
The Locusts, ekphrastic poem after a collage of the same name
by Mary Boxley Bullington, in The Ekphrastic Review (13 October 2015)