Poem-A-Day 2021, Day 8: Kimberly Hall

I encountered Kimberly Hall and her poem “Autumn Maples with Poem Slips” at a reading of ekphrastic poetry hosted by the Friendswood Public Library. Her poem had earned some recognition and with good reason!

I’m such a fan of ekphrastic poetry, or poetry written in response to other artwork. It’s one of my favorite styles to write in, like being in artistic conversation with someone else who might otherwise be inaccessible to me. For example, Kimberly Hall’s poem here responds to a beautiful screen by Tosa Mitsuoki, c. 1675. You can view the inspiring artwork, and learn more about its history, here.

Autumn Maples with Poem Slips

Times like these,
time seems to pass       slowly
and then
            all at once

Is it time travel
if I watch this moment
                        suspended
while the rest of the world keeps turning?

A screen
separates us, a sliding screen
            or a door, or a window
and the hands of the clock
.                                          outside
cannot meet
the hands of the people
           within

Times like these,
moments pass
differently – they pass
                        sometimes like running water,
and other times like
            treacle syrup –
but most times
like they
do not
pass
at
all

How do you measure a moment –
in seconds? the span of a feeling? a poem?
the time it takes one maple leaf
.                                                        to fall
.             to the ground?

We watch the seasons change,
the cherries      blossom and the maple leaves
                                                                                  fall,
and we know that the world has turned
but we do not feel it –
and all things bright and beautiful are fleeting,
we know this,
but still the world seems
            still

Times like these,
the world moves and does not –
and we move and do not –

but the poems –

the poems flutter in the wind,
whispering, like leaves,
like the sound of a brush
on paper, or the
secret scratch of pencil lead
.               inside a borrowed book, or the
slide     of a pen
as it      settles
            behind your ear –

whispering, like the slide of fingers through your hair –

whispering, like the voices of the world beyond the screen,
beyond the door, beyond the window,
and the rasp of pen on paper sounds like
.                                                         your own voice,
                         whispering back

Times like these, it can seem like
the world has come to a stop –
like we, too, are            suspended        here,
a moment within a moment,
a maple leaf, always
.             falling, never
.                                           touching
                         the
             ground

and yet –
here we are,
trying to leave our own
.               poems
tied to our own
.             maple branches –
trying to leave beauty in the world
.                             even as that beauty fades –
trying to catch a moment
in our hands as proof that we have
reached beyond the screen
and
       touched
                   the
                        world

Here we are –

             – fluttering from our own branches –

.                                                      – and here we will remain.

***

Kimberly Hall is a writer and graduate student at the University of Houston- Clear Lake. Her work has been featured in two ekphrastic poetry anthologies, Do You See the Way the Light (2019) and Still the Waves Beat (2020). When not writing or studying for exams, Kimberly can be found stress-baking, playing the violin, and trying to pet every cat she meets. She can be contacted at kdotcdothdot@gmail.com.

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