Last night I had the privilege of participating in the final reading of this year's Ars Poetica . As I mentioned in my post last month, poets submit to a jury that selects poems for presentation to local artists who choose one or more poems to interpret in their chosen media. The art and poems are displayed at various locations, culminating in author-artist events.
"What If People Dropped Like Leaves" came to me last fall as I was raking up after this beautiful Japanese maple in my yard.
What if people dropped like leaves
What if people dropped like leaves
our last months and days a dazzling display
brilliant reds, yellows, oranges flaming
bodies, a glorious glow
that draws others from miles around
to gaze in amazement eyes wide in wonder--
remembering how we began so plain
young, green, ordinary, unremarkable
and near our end—blazing beauty
stunning shimmering shadows in the sun’s
low arc across autumn skies
This should be how one dies--
a grand metamorphosis
until with one simple move
we let go of everything
that binds us
and leaf-thin float free
in silent descent, graceful and spent
released from achievements
and attachments, family trees and branches
until we come to rest at last
in the loam of the gloaming
I was privileged to have Michelle Van Berkom choose to interpret my poem. I haven't met Michelle in person, but the artist statement from her website certainly struck a chord with me:
I have painted all of my life. When I walk into my studio, an altered state of consciousness falls over me like a mantle. I have worked in many different media, but over the years watercolor has become primary.
The unpredictable nature of the controlled accident, the required immediacy and freshness, the challenge of having to get it right the first time, make watercolor my ideal medium. I feel as if the paint itself has a personality with which I work in harmony. There is resistance, there is a very distinct nature that must be understood and respected. Everything is not under my control, but by being sensitive to the nature of the paint, controlled accidents can become invited miracles.
Water is an archetypal symbol for consciousness, emotion, and for spirituality. Perhaps that is why I am so drawn to watercolor as a medium, why I find it to be a pathway into my own soul.
I believe that our souls can meet and communicate through art, and so I feel that a part of me speaks through my art on a spiritual level.
This is Michelle's lovely watercolor also titled "What If People Dropped Like Leaves":
Here's what Michelle says about creating her painting:
I have always loved autumn leaves and collect them each fall and often do "portraits" of them. I am fascinated by their beauty and variety, and the underlying symbolism of death and regeneration. For me, this poem captured everything they meant to me. I regretted that the opportunity came in the spring when there were no fresh specimens, but I did have some photos. The imagery of the poem is intense and moving. I spent a lot of time pondering how to portray the message. I wanted to fit in the idea of moving from this plane into another, and the descriptions of metamorphosis and letting go...but set it in a scene that is at once ordinary and mystical. So I pushed the colors a bit beyond reality, and left the people blank, as if they are holes in the fabric of space and time, or shadows left behind...
"A scene that is at once ordinary and mystical"—life is filled with opportunities to perceive the ordinary and extraordinary, and I'm so grateful to have had this opportunity to share in the creative expression of those moments with others.
I am a writer who, in December 2011, fortified by a new MFA, empty nest, and changes in my husband's employment, relocated from my native California to Washington state to see what would unfold next.