Poetry Friday: Ekphrastic Poetry

Outside the Dayton Art Institute stands “Pathway,” by John Safer, always reaching skyward with energy and beauty, and looking different in every season and from every angle. It draws the eye up and the mind in.

Here is a closeup I took on one visit last year:

The lower part seems to blur the sharp architecture of the building, while the upper part seems almost transparent. Here’s where that combination took my imagination:

Fitting for the Poetry Sisters’ yearlong theme of transformation, this poem commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis/surgery/chemo/radiation year.

Here’s what the rest of the Poetry Sisters came up with this month:
Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect
Tanita @ {fiction, instead of lies}
Sara @ Read Write Believe
Laura @ Laura Purdie Salas
Liz @ Liz Garton Scanlon

Tabatha has this week’s Poetry Friday roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.

Next month, the Poetry Sisters are writing etherees. This ten-line form begins with a single syllable, and each line expands by one syllable until the tenth line has ten. We’re continuing with our 2023 theme of transformation, but how you interpret that topically is up to you.

21 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Ekphrastic Poetry”

  1. Amazing poem! There’s a mystery here in the blur and all your imagery from the art. There’s mystery in 25 years verses anything less. In 2019, I had 6 friends battling cancer. Four of them survived. Statistically that is probably a good result, but I ache for the two I lost. There is no understanding why.


    1. My husband is 17 years from prostate surgery. His father only made it 10. Good decisions? Strong prayer? Early detection? Luck? All I can do is be grateful he’s still here!


  2. Oh, wow, Mary Lee, beautiful poem and connection to your TWENTY-FIVE years cancer-free and that gorgeous sculpture. I love that ending “both sharing that shred / of blue sky” Amen!


  3. Mary Lee, 25 and counting – You have carved a beautiful pathway in life. I celebrate 20 years of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma freedom at the end of this year. Perhaps the blurs that remain are well-intended markers to a heaven-sent gift. The architectural design at the Dayton Art Institute is a gorgeous pathway letting eyes look upward. Here’s to a lovely poem that shares blue skies and good cheer.


  4. Congratulations on your 25th anniversary – that is certainly something to be thankful for. Here’s hoping for 25 more! I like how you played around with line breaks in your poem, Mary Lee. Unexpected surprises.


  5. It’s a beautiful poem, Mary Lee. And an amazing photo. And a great day to celebrate 25 years of “after.” I love how you accept and help us see both the clarity and the blur of your emotions, and that ending with blue skies…sharp and lovely.


  6. Oh, it’s lovely to see the faraway view of this artwork, too. What I love most about the close-up is how individual objects morph, then thin to invisibility – everything becomes part of everything else, the clouds, the twigs, the roof the buildings. The natural and the manufactured coalesce into something new.

    I love that the sliver of blue in the poem came from your body fighting for itself, and medical science fighting alongside – everything coming together, to create a newly strengthened you.

    Happy 25 years; we raise a glass to another twenty-five.


  7. Sculptures bring amazement to the world. I’m glad you chose this one to share with your poem, your celebration for 25 years, Mary Lee. My sister-in-law just celebrated one year from her cancer diagnosis. She is cancer free! I love “decisions as clean and sharp as the line between two realities” – what we do, right?


  8. Thank you for sharing the full image of Pathway. I appreciate seeing it both at a distance and close-up. I love the connection to time in your poem and the reality of years blurring together while some aspects remain crystal clear.
    Congratulations on 25 years!


  9. A silver anniversary…thank goodness. “that shred/of blue sky.” gets me. I love how common a thought it is and yet so very special.


  10. I’m very happy that the pathway has led you, upward and reflective, to a precious anniversary. I’m glad you’re here.


  11. I love that shred of blue sky and the mystery of the decisions we make when we don’t know where they will lead even if we think we do). And 25 years—wow


  12. The close-up is stunning and where it led you is beautiful.
    I can relate to the blur, the feeling that at the time the decisions were clean and sharp, all as related to my husband’s colon cancer diagnosis and surgery. Thanks for sharing these reflections, Mary Lee (reflections all levels. :))


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