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FURTHER READING
Other Ekphrastic Poems
Purgatorio, Canto X
by Dante Alighieri
The Iliad, Book XVIII, [The Shield of Achilles]
by Homer
a woman peeling apples, with a small child
by Pattie McCarthy
All those Attempts in the Changing Room!
by Anne Stevenson
Archaic Torso of Apollo
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Die Muhle Brennt--Richard
by Richard Matthews
In a Blue Wood
by Richard Levine
Incomplete Lioness
by Linda Bierds
Joseph Cornell, with Box
by Michael Dumanis
Landscape With The Fall of Icarus
by William Carlos Williams
M. Degas Teaches Art & Science at Durfee Intermediate School, Detroit 1942
by Philip Levine
Mural with HUD Housing & School Bus (1980)
by Adrian Matejka
Museum Guard
by David Hernandez
Ode on a Grecian Urn
by John Keats
On Seeing Larry Rivers' Washington Crossing the Delaware at the Museum of Modern Art
by Frank O'Hara
On Seeing the Elgin Marbles
by John Keats
On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery
by Percy Bysshe Shelley
Photograph of People Dancing in France
by Leslie Adrienne Miller
Seeing All the Vermeers
by Alfred Corn
Stealing The Scream
by Monica Youn
The Abolition of Reality [Georges Seurat]
by Adriano Spatola
The Family Photograph
by Vona Groarke
The Mad Potter
by John Hollander
The Man with the Hoe
by Edwin Markham
The Painting
by John Balaban
The Picture of Little T. C. in a Prospect of Flowers
by Andrew Marvell
The Shield of Achilles
by W. H. Auden
To Haydon with a Sonnet Written on Seeing the Elgin Marbles
by John Keats
War Photograph
by Kate Daniels
Why knowing is (& Matisse's Woman with a Hat)
by Martha Ronk
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Hagar in the Wilderness

 
by Tyehimba Jess

Carved Marble. Edmonia Lewis, 1875
 
My God is the living God,
God of the impertinent exile.
An outcast who carved me
into an outcast carved
by sheer and stony will
to wander the desert
in search of deliverance
the way a mother hunts
for her wayward child.
God of each eye fixed to heaven,
God of the fallen water jug,
of all the hope a vessel holds
before spilling to barren sand.
God of flesh hewn from earth
and hammered beneath a will
immaculate with the power
to bear life from the lifeless
like a well in a wasteland.
I'm made in the image of a God
that knows flight but stays me
rock still to tell a story ancient as
slavery, old as the first time
hands clasped together for mercy
and parted to find only their own
salty blessing of sweat.
I have been touched by my God
in my creation, I've known her caress
of anointing callus across my face. 
I know the lyric of her pulse
across these lips...  and yes,
I've kissed the fingertips
of my dark and mortal God.
She has shown me the truth
behind each chiseled blow
that's carved me into this life,
the weight any woman might bear 
to stretch her mouth toward her
one true God, her own
beaten, marble song.
 
 
Edmonia Lewis (1845-1907) was an African/Native American expatriate sculptor who was phenomenally successful in Rome.
About this poem:
"In lieu of much description of this ekphrastic poem or Edmonia Lewis, I'd merely ask that you look upon the actual sculpture, seen in the attached photo."

—Tyehimba Jess






Copyright 2013 by Tyehimba Jess. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on December 26, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
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