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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 6: January 2021
Ekphrastic Poem: 126 words
By Robbi Nester

After Kazakh Winter by Aaron Rands


Stark winter trees arc across the hill’s soft contours 
in shades of silver gray and black against a ground 
of white, a line of dancers, ribbon of fretted 
branches. Because the image offers so little 
to the eye, the mind projects itself onto 
the white field, filling in the blanks. 

The title evokes winter in what was then 
the USSR, silent and frozen, though beyond 
the frame, the river still flows beneath 
its skin of ice, and somewhere, not here, 
crows roost among branches. Here, 
dark trees, bare as bones, and spare 
white hill, without shadow, call forth the many 
dead, those who perished in Stalin’s purges, 
Nazi death camps, Killing Fields, the COVID 
pandemic, souls sequestered behind barbed wire. 



Publisher’s Note:

The artwork by Aaron Rands, Kazakh Winter, is dated 2019 at his Tumblr gallery.

Robbi Nester
Issue 6, January 2021

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 edited three anthologies; the latest is The Plague Papers, available online at Poemeleon Journal. Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including, most recently, Verdad, Muddy River Review, Live Encounters, and Verse Virtual, with work forthcoming in Gargoyle, Cultural Weekly, and Aeolian Harp VI.

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

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 2020)

Law 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)

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