For old love, after Rilke
I’d relented that man’s words come to nothing,
they loosen wild as dry leaves, and your body
is a lantern swinging way out in yonderland,
and all, with a gaze, might turn the flicker down.
I saw the white-blue feast of shaking
embers, tattered papers, and flickers
of the rescue flares. All that oily birch bark
that never did work, a jaw come alive from below.
But, now, in a mirror, I see defaced
a phantom of a woman that was me:
O mercy, amen--every day was a mountain
we climbed so clumsy and can’t regret.
Tonight you will wander from the borders
of yourself and see stars cast like fossils in a stream,
Here, there is no face that doesn’t see your own
and no word without its root in the gleam.
Andrea Null. Charleston, West Virginia.
Call and Response is a photo-literary exploration devoted to the relationship between photographs and words. Using photographs from the Looking at Appalachia project, writers are encouraged to respond narratively to a single image in 1,000 words or less. We hope to use this platform to expand our community and encourage collaboration between photographers and writers. Learn more about how to submit here.