Quarantine: From the Garden Window
Copyrighted © by Robert Rhodes. All rights reserved.
Painting reproduced here with artist’s permission.
When I was small, I used to wake before the sun
to sit in the still-dark living room, turn on the TV,
and bathe in the test pattern’s bright glow. Now
that I so seldom leave the house, I lift the shade
at 5 AM, watch the colors rising one by one
outside the window, like an orchestra
in which one player at a time joins in
until a loud brightness stings my eyes, light
sifting through the leaves. Gradually,
that slash of green becomes the hedge,
the red smudge a neighbor’s truck, backed
by a splash of blue, the pool across the street
the color of a cloudless sky. There’s still an umber
patch of shadow underneath the trees.
In the branches of the sycamore, the woodpecker
listens hard, then mines the bark to find his breakfast.
Like me, grubs hidden there can’t escape
his hammering. If I return this afternoon, the colors
will have dimmed or mellowed, the shadow disappeared.
What if the window’s frame could suddenly
contain another scene, the veldt’s burnt brown,
acacia like a stationary cloud, grazing zebras,
lions eying me through high grass? Remembering Monet,
I look and look again at the same view, find it changed
only by light, which after all, is everything.
shelters in place in Southern California, where she’s been putting the finishing touches on four new manuscripts, which are currently looking for a home. She is the author of four books of poems, 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). Her poetry, reviews, articles, and essays have been published widely.
She has also edited a print anthology, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! Poetic Responses to NPR & PBS Stories (Nine Toes Press, 2014); an e-anthology of ekphrastic poetry, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees (Celebrating the Photographs of Beth Moon), which was published online in 2016 as a special edition of Poemeleon Journal; and a new ekphrastic anthology which has yet to be published.
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)
The Locusts, ekphrastic poem after a collage of the same name
by Mary Boxley Bullington, in The Ekphrastic Review (13 October 2015)
grew up in the Mississippi River delta region of eastern Arkansas, near Memphis, Tennessee, and now lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He has painted since he was 12, and for nearly 20 years was a newspaper journalist. He is the author of a memoir, Nightwatch: An Inquiry into Solitude: Alone on the Prairie with the Hutterites (Good Books, 2009).
Night Tunnel, ekphrastic poem by Robbi Nester after a painting
by Robert Rhodes, Philadelphia Night Train, in The Ekphrastic Review
(21 April 2016)
For additional paintings, see the following posts in “Art I Like”
at the blog Don Yorty Explorations:
⚡ Robert Rhodes: Night Diary: Nocturnal Paintings
(29 September 2017)
Rain Pastels With Charcoal by Robert Rhodes (25 September 2018)
Robert Rhodes, Late November (27 November 2018)
Robert Rhodes: Night Rain (21 June 2019)