StumbleUpon Ekphrastic: Spider-Webs Dream-Cathers

I decided this week that I needed to change the title of my blog. I was trawling StumbleUpon and discovered that this was the best site to add a random quality to my poem construction. I have always had problems trying to write poems for this blog without controlling the topic completely. I have wanted this quality of uncontrolled creativity and inspiration from the beginning, and was hoping to find that through readers sending photos and poems they thought would be interesting to add to Jet Fuel’s blog site. This was not successful and I completely blame myself on the matter, because I should have thought of a better randomized search than just Google images.

Yes, there will still be poems about things that have inspired me from the week because life in present moments motivates the writer in me. I just decided that on the weeks where life is so busy there is no time to pause and process the thoughts into a story, I would step outside of my life and find a story in the photos and random sites I find on StumbleUpon. Since most of the time I will be using the site, I thought the blog title should credit the site somehow.

With that introduction out of the way I will start explaining the next poem I wrote. This week I ‘stumbled’ on the National Geographic site. The photo was taken by Russell Watkins in Sindh, Pakinstan after the 2010 flood. I didn’t even realize what I was looking at until I read the caption. The trees I looked like smoke stacks stuck in a windless valley. The caption on the photo says:

“An unexpected side-effect of the 2010 flooding of Sindh, Pakistan, was that millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood waters; because of the scale of the flooding and the fact that the water took so long to recede, many trees became cocooned in spider webs.”

This caption led to a creative spark. I used the information from the caption, plus my own creative mistake, to make an interesting interpretation of the situation. I admit that I have very vague memories of the catastrophe, but since a photo is always stuck in the moment it was taken, I just added a little hope to the situation. I wasn’t there, so I can’t even begin to understand the prospect of losing my home to an ocean, but I can add my interpretation of the sadness I see in the children walking a new shoreline. I did not see all of the devastation the flood rendered the cities and towns, but I take what I can from the photo and build from the details. So here is the a new poem for my first StumbleUpon Ekphrastic.

Spider-web Dream-catchers
Like frozen thought of a cartoon reel
A tree stands above a child
Who picks through the cracked
Asphalt for shards of her history
Washed away in the flood
Like cotton candy cone memories
The trees hold futures in silken strands
As the harbor generations of rings
In their cobwebbed branches,
Enshrining flies and disease from
Striking the stricken victims.
Like frozen smoke stacks on the horizon,
The trees become safe haven in a storm
For the less appreciated insect. Towers
Of lives harbored in their leaves
Show other survivors in the aftermath
Of destruction.

— 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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