Rosalind Kaliden has published a chapbook Arriving Sideways and a book of ekphrastic poetry, Trysting with the Divine. She has completed a second, unpublished book of ekphrastic poems and is nearing completion of her fourth book of poetry. She is also working on a memoir. She has published her poems and essays in many journals or anthologies both here and abroad. She has taught English, speech, journalism, and reading in secondary schools and has instructed as a Reading Specialist at the University of Pittsburgh.
Midday, October 28, 2020 the Ohio River from my deck, pre-election, November 4
The mist enshrouds the bridge. The electorate elicits the future. The media promotes half-truths; COVID natter grates on residual nerves. And the nation’s aspect turns gray and watchful.
While on my deck, Seven pots of sturdy begonias persistently birth a riot of neon yellows and brilliant oranges, and the emerald ferns still stretch for the obscured heavens. And I can see a darkened barge, miles away, drive hard upriver. And it is only midday.
JUST DUCKY, 1952 from Untitled, 1960,Donald Judd
With the dexterity of the symphony conductor, she waved her heavy pinking shears in the air, adding the finishing touches to her masterpiece. She trimmed the length of the long ribbon tails hanging down my back and in one smooth motion, gently, she touched my shoulder, turned me around and lifted my chin to hers. Looking me straight in the eyes, she twinkled, “You look just ducky!”
I lifted my shoulders and exhaled. Once again, I was ready for Easter Sunday, so pleased in the semi-sheer yellow lawn dress with dropped waist and pleated skirt that ballooned when I twirled. She hand-stitched two embroidered white ducklings to the corners of the square neckline in front. And in the back, the long brown ribbons trailed from a flat velvet bow tacked above the zipper. When I tilted my head backward and shook my long brown wavy hair, I could feel the curls barely glancing off the neckline. Perfect.
Tomorrow, dyeing eggs, outsized natural wicker baskets with puffy pink and yellow bows; Sunday, solid chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and marshmallow peeps, banks of fragrant white lilies in front of the altar, lively hymns, our chests vibrating with the loud organ chords, my natural straw hat with a thin ribbon and brown-eyed Susans on the flat crown, the clear plastic, shoulder-strap purse that shut with a snap, black patent Mary Janes, and most cherished of all, white stretchy-lace gloves. Step aside, Funny Face!
Our Future From Above from Shorter Than the Day, Sarah Sze, Installation sculpture at La Guardia Airport, New York, May 2020
Look up! Look up! If only in passing. Our future will always be there. The lofty daytime colors—blue, red, orange, yellow, black, and gray. Rectangles flutter and flash from above in a vast empire. The palette suggests that all people represent these brilliant options. Mankind can always advance their fragile individual dreams. Many people; countless directions. All connections in one spiky, gorgeous, black graphic. Suspensions off countless frail-strong rods. Airy, light, free—offering much room for growth. My chest expands with freedom’s invitation, with cleansed flight, as light as birds’ hollow bones. My breaths, complicated as birds’ nests, with welcomed glances of similitude. Touch is not necessary, but the danger of civil institutions, that falling out of sync, will pull and push us down, violent and fast, land us on the floor, crumpled like so many empty beer cans. A 2020 Beirut explosion of their own making—lies in confused memory. Or a Nashville 6:00 a.m. blasted Christmas surprise.
Your journey may be shorter than one day, but together we should, or could, last longer, grow stronger, shine brighter each day’s revolution. Become wiser each century. More brilliant, more hopeful. More kind. Above, the colorful aluminum plates continue to swirl, their elbows never banging. Their paths are plotted, arced or straight. The winds of passengers, travelers rushing through, carry them from a north to west orientation, no COVID-19 molecules to befuddle their trajectory. No science in this reality. It is spellbinding to observe. The movement catches our imagination, stops us for a time, while no white bunny rattles us; no nervous chatter hurries us. I’m late, I’m late—for a very important date!—does not resonate. Even the delicate/gigantic—puzzling shadows, like errant kites and the perplexing—density/immensity cannot hold us—long enough—to make us—miss our flights.
White Valentine, 2016
Crystal branches in frosted forest. Crunching footsteps in granulated snow. Rising sun casting lacy shadows.
The Bough Bounces
I wonder if he knows
that the bough bounces when that little bird alights on that very fragile branch amidst the falling snow
and causes a clumpy shower that rolls into a soft ball that rolls into a larger ball that starts an avalanche.