Ekphrastic Blog # 23

Photos of Massawepie were taken in the 1940’s by Edward C. Dreby, III

Editor’s Note: This post has been written by Linda K. Strahl, an editor at the Jet Fuel Review. Her full bio can be found at the end of this post.

Hello my dear and devoted audience. It is the first post of the year and I am already late. I apologize, but the choice of poem and picture caused an internal debate that I had to sleep on to solve. In the end, the trees won. This poem is an old one, but I altered it over time, and this picture I found added much more content than the rough draft had.

Like many poets (Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Robinson Jeffers), I personified nature in this poem. It was originally inspired by two trees I discovered on the campus of Bates College, a school I attended from 2004-2007. Staring at them through the classroom window, I saw their stalwart stance as a victory against the cold and unforgiving wind that is ever-present in the northern state of Maine. I saw soldiers, battling and taunting their unseen foe. Their irregular gaps and missing branches looked like a grin with missing teeth. Their compatriots that stood straight looked like the younger versions of these worn out and mangled pines.

The challenge, one that I found to be trivial and too particular, ended with the inability to find a picture of these two particular trees. I found some so similar that I improved on my rough draft, giving them a new setting closer to a threatening and watery grave depicted in the picture I used for my current Ekphrastic inspiration. I hope you enjoy these stalwart soldiers.

The Soldiers
The trees are tilted
Like some natural imitations to pizza,
Almost falling into the water depths.
No protection from this elemental war
The wind a restless foe
Trying to push them further
But as they are old so are they rooted
Tilted in their place, interlocking their
Hidden fingers beneath the damp soil
Like wounded soldiers whom
Fought a vicious battle,
So tired they must lean upon an invisible wall.
Their fellows, straight standing at attention
In uniform in their certainty
Whisper to their generals
“Why are you leaning? Look, it’s easy…”
The old sparse trees laugh, and lean
Continuing their stalwart stance
Gritting their jaws, showing missing teeth
Loving their endless battle knowing victory unreachable
By: Linda K. Strahl

Editor’s Note: Linda K Strahl is a transfer student from University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, where she was studying Archaeology and minoring in Creative Writing. She came to Lewis University in Fall of 2010 to major in Creative Writing. After participating in the production of two plays at Phillip Lynch Theater she has become an enthusiastic dramaturg, and is contemplating a career as a researcher and playwriter.

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