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Ostrowski & Schultz – Baltimore Ekphrasis Project

Nicole K. Ostrowski and Whitney G. Schultz traded art and words. Nicole shared this painting, entitled “Bliss,” with Whitney:

Bliss_Nicole Ostrowski

In response, Whitney wrote this poem:

Prayer for Moath

a villanelle

Think not of the cage, but the flame.
Smoke expands, embraces you. Breathe.
You bow into the fire, greet the ash.

They will say you did not weep, did not
fling a sound out into the sky.
Did you think not of the cage, but the flame?

What prayer crossed your mind?
What face flickered in that flame,
called you to bow into fire, greeting ash?

A bright backdrop, obscene sunshine:
the colors felt wrong for the scene.
Think of the cage, not of the flame.

Some will say you smiled. Yielded.
Rising like smoke, let us exalt you.
You bow into the fire, we greet ash.

Unblemished, you ignite, smolder, extinguish.
If you don’t shine, you are darkness.
Think of the cage, think of the flame.
Bow at the fire, see him in the ash.

* * * * *

Whitney shared this poem with Nicole:

Public Displays of Affection

Give me the brio, the unabashed
kiss in public. The blouse, unbuttoned,
unashamed. Give me the highway
overpass—all concrete and grime,
a shaky hand, the crooked letters
of I ❤ U NADINE: proud,
hopeful, the trust that she might
drive by, her eyes flickering overhead,
a quiet oh—those lips shaped
like the kiss she gave him
on her way out the door. Give me that
same trust, the confidence in knowing
that scrawled name in the sky
is just for me—the faith that
I could push you to a love
that turns you into a fool, the kind
that makes that train station kiss
last too long, embarrassing the onlookers.

In response, Nicole made this painting, entitled “Passion”:

Passion_NicoleKOstrowski

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