Rustic Impression

By SUSAN COMNINOS

chickens

This poem is an ekphrastic response to the above painting, Chickens!, by Marion Clarke.

Near the Mountains of Mourne, County Down, Northern Ireland

***

RUSTIC IMPRESSION
of a blind house, a barn, and forked path

At first, the flowers open
to a scene that makes us stay
fixed on its slate roofs, the drop

from their eaves to the two
skewed red doors, one hung
on a bespectacled barn. Its

windows stare right
at a whitened house: the lone
blemish, a blood slab of wood.

No barrow depends on this
trio of hens — or are they
cocks? — strutting, wattles

rouged as poppies
blurred to a haze near
a cadre of rocks. Like

blunt cadets, they point
to a crotch in the yard. It spreads
its branched bones in the dirt

then cracks out a path
between hay and home, table
and trough. Unlovely

letter, it wants us to name
what we are: cad or cluck. At our best
loved, we scratch down

a dirt road to sleep, beasts
bound for their separate
beds. Plucked from paint to be

a bird or a man, we perch on
respective clawed feet: all to march
for one hanged pair of doors.

 

 

Susan Comninos is both an arts & culture journalist and a poet. Her journalism appears in The Atlantic Online, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and Jewish Daily Forward, among others. Her poetry most recently appeared in the Harvard Review Online, Rattle, Subtropics, Southern Humanities Review and The Common. She teaches literary analysis and writing at The University at Albany (SUNY), and is seeking a publisher for her debut poetry manuscript, Out of Nowhere.

 

Painting reproduced courtesy of Marion Clarke.

Rustic Impression

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