16 Feb 2022
After Antonia Showering’s
We stray (2020)
Unguarded, we float in the last of lingering rays.
Lapped by lucid azure nostalgia
we grasp the delicate landscape,
the rich thread that stitches us together,
while above, the indigo hills sink and spread.
Clad in sun burst gingham, you hold my arms
as I peer into shallow pools
your body behind mine
Piz Buin and Fragonard on your wrists and neck.
An inverse ratio of fresh spring water
and saturated brine
sneaks heat from the day
precipitates the sting and burn
as the lake consumes us, subsumes us.
I hear the rustled fabric of your dress
as you pull it over your head, run thumbs
over hand-stitched pockets crammed with pebbles.
See your careful mask fall as he wades in,
our mass now a burden shared.
Our father hikes the baby onto his shoulders
but he is no longer a baby, so he’s hard to carry,
thighs pinching flesh with unguessed weight,
firm and gleeful in his crow’s nest perch.
And though it is cooler and getting late
we fashion a pillowed seat of sand and seaweed.
Stretch shiny shins, watch the surface ripples.
Agree to pay no mind to the drifting current,
how it beckons us gently under.
Behind the poem...
My ekphrastic poem Homecoming was written after British artist Antonia Showering's painting, We Stray. It formed part of an exhibition of her work at London's White Cube Gallery in 2020. I found Antonia's nostalgic, dream-like canvases very moving, and wanted to encapsulate in a poem the same nebulous feeling of childhood recollection.