Friday, December 02, 2016

Cloister Ekphrastic Free Verse



 This month, in our year of writing poetry together, my Poetry Sisters have called on me to supply the art for our ekphrasic poems. I've chosen to share my photos of the cloisters of Glencairn Museum, a place I love to visit. You can read about the cloister here. The mansion was built as a family home for Raymond Pitcairn and his family in the 1930s, and later turned into a museum for religious art. Of the southern side of the house a cloister garden is built, surrounded by columns carved into depictions of 12 different bird species.



This is the place I find a peaceful retreat most often now. The family that build the house was railroad/oil baron rich; sort of like an American Downton Abbey, if you will. Now the house/garden is open to anyone, so it ends up being for the people in a way. The Pitcairns built the house with the cloister to be their family home. They had 11 children and raised them in the house. Raymond collected medieval art, and wanted the home to display his collection. When I am there I always imagine Mildred, the wife/mother, living there. Her bedroom is just above the cloister, where she had a huge bathroom with windows over the tub (they were one of the first to have lavish indoor plumbing) looking out over the cloister, gardens, and open valley below. They also had a sleeping porch, and could spend the nights out under the stars.



Cloister Home

She gathers
on the grass; children,
wine, cheese, bread, and
veggies cut and diced.
The littles fling
round the fountain,
laughter rising
on the cool evening
air. Light soft, stone hard.
They circle her. Their eyes
bounce from bird to bush
and back to her.
The older ones want to talk.
They hesitate,
spill stories; seek what
she knows but never says.

Bold Miss will always ask -
Where is daddy?
Still at work, darling.
Here. He comes
up the hill, seeking
them in the cloister.
Where cool breezes
find and lift
sweaty smocks,
limp locks,
sometimes torn knees
or slight limps.
Nearing end of day
and no one’s cleaned up yet.

Their voices lilt
across the valley
hidden behind the stone.
Stone carved to birds;
wings, bills, eyes
downcast. We must lift
to look; they gaze low
reminding us
nothing is heavy
that sings.

And then
in the dark
all comes to rest
on the sleeping porch
above the white garden.
Above the shushing
fountain catching
peace as it rises
off the star lit 
magnolias.

 Please take some time to visit the blogs of my Poetry Sisters and enjoy their poems as well:

Laura Purdie Salas
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Sara Lewis Holmes
Kelly Fineman
Liz Garton Scanlon
Tanita S. Davis 


And don't forget to visit the Friday Poetry roundup, hosted by: 
Bridget Magee at wee words for wee ones. Enjoy!