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Williams & Lee – Baltimore Ekphrasis Project

Beth Williams and Seola Lee traded art and words. Beth shared this image, entitled “Way Out,” with Seola:

way out_BethWilliamsIn response, Seola wrote this poem:

The Door

Open the door open it—it’s strange, how the sound
percolates through the locked door, each syllable
amplifying its volume like a giant balloon which rubber
skin stretched beyond its limit. It’s Mom’s voice, our
trivial violence on late Sunday morning. We usually

eat burnt toast with strawberry jam for breakfast.
I like licking the spoon before anyone puts it away
in the sink. I tend to collect the crumbs in my fist,
the way I load dirt in my pockets to add some extra
weight. I exist, scarcely. When Dad starts poking

the keyhole with a straightened hanger and Mom’s still
banging the door, that’s my cue to scream much harder.
Everyone loves some drama, this is how we love one
another. The knob is rattling, like my windows during
the thunderstorm from last summer. I once sneaked out

into the pouring rain to see whether I would melt
away or get drenched into a bloated body. My wet hair
slapped my face and twined around my neck as I skipped
over the muddled puddles, looking for the sun
to bounce off the surface and swallow me up. That night

I caught a fever. Floating dreams. The ceiling and floor
were growing into the shape of clasped hands, like the night
I was conceived. A man’s body collided with a woman’s,
causing friction, in a way all entrances and escapes have done.
A spark. A birth dangling in the doorway. Now Mom’s crying,

but I can’t open the door, I am the door, the midway
between a door and another, numerous cracks through which
I can peep both inside and outside. Here in this disturbed
dream my room grows into a crowded elevator, here
it smells like sand, sweat, and dirty socks and as soon

as the door gapes open those kids next door are stomping
down the stairs shoving each other’s bodies against the rail
but I want to stand still—they’re squeezing swarming
out into the sun-stroked field, their screeching laugh,
those sweet brittle maggots, the colossal triumph.

* * * * *

Seola shared this poem with Beth:

Popped, My Helium Heart

Long days, longer dreams,
loads of
unwished promises between

the switching seasons.
Strangers
loom out of my closet, within

no one’s reach. All the curtains
closed, but
another morning is still frightening.

Some live; some leave
while leaves,
just fallen from a sycamore tree,

are still floating in the air,
in between
stillborn birth and stubborn death.

Like us, living in this linear
apocalypse—
rushing toward the blinding beam

of misleading hopes like
an empty
soap box, flat bubbles like a silky web,

and faint scent lingering
in my nose.
I feel no poetry can save me tonight.

Jumping off the universe,
cutting this
gravity twined around my two bare feet.

Clouds melting, and the air
thinning,
one, two, and—popped, my helium heart.

In response, Beth made this piece, entitled “The Gravity of the Situation”:

The Gravity Of The Situation_BethWilliams

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