Ekphrasis #1

kids, ca. 1981
photo taken by MaryBeth Jamail, probably in 1981

I wrote this sonnet when I was in college, meditating on the theme of love presumed to be inherent in the sonnet form. I thought, love takes many forms, and so, this…


Lullaby for a Crying Child

When my cousin died (olive skin and thick
black hair and twelve years old laid under dirt
and roses) I realized that death is
not a one-way gate, but is a long silk skirt

in the rain:  shadows of skin inside the silk
(bare legs running to get inside, get warm)
stick to my skirt until I peel the silk
from my skin, and hang it in the bathroom.

My cousin (body of a child with eyes
and mind that have just turned twenty-three)
visits me in my sleep, touches my fingers, and I
look at him, then through him, and he leaves me

but not alone.  And I wake to rain and
my skirt dripping from the shower curtain rod.


This poem originally appeared in my first published volume of poems, Gypsies.

8 thoughts on “Ekphrasis #1

    1. Thanks. 🙂 I was utterly floundering. The one thing I was even close to being certain of was poetry. Well, that and my friend Patricia, who knew me better than anyone else and could explain me to people better than I possibly could.

      I wrote poetry and only that for several years, beginning halfway through university. Then when I returned to fiction, I was a completely different writer. My brain had evolved. I still write poetry now and then — am working on a poem this week, in fact — and dabble in creative non-fiction, too, but primarily I’m a novelist.

      So yeah, I turned out more or less okay. 🙂


      1. Well you are one of the lucky ones I guess, who was talented and hard-working enough to make a success out of a passion. I’d love to read more of your work and to know you better, thanks for sharing!


      2. Thanks again. I think I was fortunate in that I landed at University of Houston for a degree in CW. I knew I wanted that, and it was about the only thing I could articulate about what I wanted from my life.

        There’s a poetry page here on this blog where you can read more of it, and then of course the archives are full of eclectic stuff! The Popular Posts page is going to be an index to the more “literary” things which are not poetry. Hopefully I’ll have more of that sort of content coming up here soon.

        Welcome, welcome. 🙂


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