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Ruthke & Malone – Baltimore Ekphrasis Project

Magan Ruthke and Kat Malone traded art and words. Magan shared this painting, entitled “What Mykonos is Made Of,” with Kat:

WhatMykonos..._MaganRuthkeIn response, Kat wrote this poem:


I remember my mother’s arms.
Arms that once protected me from the world,
before I outgrew their circumference.

arms that hung fresh laundry
to dry in the honesty of the sun

arms that flowed without bone
sinking like silk
into sheets
following from flesh
to the fluid flowing fabric

I could not parse
where the hands ended and
the sheets

white sheets
white skin

the arms of my mother
waving away all the sadness of winter
waving a white flag

to the sky’s
backbone of cold blue

waving away in this moment
rapidly riding the waves of air
slowly becoming the shadows
on the soft underbellies of clouds

future moving into the past
the flick of an eyelash

when the eyes open and close

with the past becoming the future
in between
the visual heartbeat

me growing up
you growing old
a constant dance
of preparing for goodbye

I can’t imagine the future,
As I struggle to recall the past,
where your ashes will someday be

picked up and scattered

in the same familiar wind

as my hands
will them to.

* * * * *

Kat shared this piece with Magan:

4 Silent Things

The day your wife died you rang, your voice quivering over the phone, nerves exposed like wires, words cracking in a frayed connection. I could find no friends in the words I so purposely own.

I mourned for you, you in particular. Sad at the impulse of pain from a phantom limb from your severed right hand. Sad for the pieces of you that will be lost for a while or forever.

I was sad I wasn’t permitted to say goodbye. Do you feel as robbed as I?
We are taught good byes are important, a cordial formality with no real meaning. Goodbyes comfort us from our own strangling mortality.

I secretly fret over my goodbyes, they must be perfect. I fret over things I forget to say when parting. I am always careful never to add, see you tomorrow to my solemn salutations.

As we are all born and yet promised nothing.

I don’t like goodbyes.

You told me she was the one who was supposed to out live you, as you cooed, my beautiful bride. Words soothing yet bound and imprisoned with sorrow.

You said you promised to expire first, a promise only a foolish man in the deathrows of love makes.

Careless. Reckless. Sweet with unselfish abandon.

We are all told not to make promises we can not keep. We own none of the sum of these external things. We are own sorrow and the follies of love.

You told me you thought rock and roll would have killed you by now, I laughed and said that I thought writing would have killed me by now too. But I know better, I have not suffered enough.

Writers die slower deaths than musicians, this is a fact. We suffer long and hard for it, earning our terrible seemingly empty and isolated endings. I’ve watched you struggle, old friend, with the tortures of your talent.

We all earn our egos in this process, writers, musicians, painters and laymen alike, fighting that same battle closed doors. That battle is where all men are created equal.

I know I must let go of my vices, we all do.
Saying goodbye, making promises.

With this detaching and shedding, I understand that stillness is power, lack of fear in the mist of silence. Like Sappho and Rumi, we can be brave.

Thinking of Kristi,
I can feel the catharsis, ever so weak and brief in understanding, the 4 most stunningly beautiful, painfully silent and precious gifts we all promised;


The Moment when night ends and dawn breaks.


Mourning of the dead.

In response, Magan made this painting, entitled “nerves like wires”:


One Comment leave one →
  1. ramsueno permalink
    March 19, 2015 5:42 pm

    “arms that flowed without bone… to the fluid flowing fabric”… beautiful match of image and words……

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