Challenge: a drawer, an ode, and apostrophe

And ode provides a compelling description of an object and, sometimes, the poet’s relationship to it. An apostrophe means a speaker directly addresses a person or an object in a poem.

Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel 1565

A much-traveled print, framed in green,
found in a drawer when a family
sorted the leavings of a thoughtful life;
art their mother liked deserved a home.

Carried through Wyoming’s expansive night,
jumbled in a truck with other displaced goods,
a master’s rendition of a scene familiar from
Christmas cards and books of art:

Encompassing snow, swoop-roofed cottages
spires and crags, river and rounded hills, trees
where magpies watch over a village astir and
ice flattens the pond, freezes the motion of the mill;

Three hunters—leather leggings, caps, tunics —
silently trudge with slender spears of wood
a single fox hung from a slumping back above
slinking thin dogs, weary from a useless hunt.

She hung it in a corner and studied it
through the years — What did my mother see
in you? Did she wonder, as I do, whether the
hunters and their children knew hunger that night?

Would she like what I’ve become?



20 thoughts on “Challenge: a drawer, an ode, and apostrophe

  1. I have a winter scene, log home with smoke floating out the stack, trees drenched in snow and sunlight finding a way through the branches…it hung in my grandmothers home, over her fireplace, for years. My Dad remembers it hung in his home too. When I would spend the night at her house, I would fall asleep looking at it, the light catching the small bits of light from the night.
    I asked to have it when she passed away, it has hung in my college apartment, moved to Eugue OR, then Alaska, to Los Angeles and now Arcata, CA always finding its way on to the wall and I find I ask myself similar questions. I never asked her about this painting, I wish I would have. I wonder what she would think of where it hangs now and what she thinks of me as an adult. Sometimes I feel like she is looking back at me through the beautiful light within the painting, that makes me smile.

    Lovely Ode to something someone special loved. Drawers house incredible things! I enjoyed this very much!


    • Oh, how I enjoyed this comment, your story so closely matching mine. I’m grateful for the assignment to write about something in a drawer and the instinct that came to me to write about Mom’s garage-sale-purchased print. Poetry seems to draw me to small, fleeting things and help me discover the meaning those things have for me. I’m glad you invited me to participate.


      • That is such a beautiful thing to discover about your writing, Janet. I am so happy to hear you are uncovering an appreciation for where your words take you when they are confined to a poem. I am so happy you are wandering and learning on this journey with me! Truly 🙂


      • That was my thought exactly, Carrie, but I think I’ll give it a try with a magnetized word set for refrigerator poetry I have; just draw 100 words or so and see what I can do. I my have to ignore the landscape prompt though. I agree that this is a bit much of a challenge because of what we’ve been doing.I hope tonight is easier because we’re leaving early tomorrow morning for the weekend. Whew!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I like this very much — my grandmother had a framed Maxfield Parrish print in a rectangular frame with the glass that bowed outward toward the viewer. I don’t know what she saw in the print. She was very Mennonite in her heart of hearts. Next to it was a past-popular Christ praying in the Garden of Gethsemene. Both pictures are pictures of gardens, but no picture of any garden equaled the real life garden my grandmother cultivated every year.


  3. Wowser Janet- years ago,(many) I received a Bruegel print Census at Bethlehem”- love it. My last job in a tawdry grocery store a chap came in, he was down and out and had painted a painting based on a poem, “Three Fishers”, which I love, it is a woman kneeling in the surf, bowed in grief, amid ship’s wreckage, somehow he was unable to render her face. Of my few belongings I cherish it, I swapped it from him for a case of beer. Sometimes things are just special- lovely work, thanks.


      • Rex was a Wino, tried and true, who drifted from one Muffler Repair job to another, the drink always getting the better of him, but he was a gentlemen at heart, and my how he could paint. And yes, that last line, I believe your Ma would be very proud of you..very.


      • Thank for believing my mom would approve of me. When I’m not feeling insecure for one reason or another, I believe so too. I enjoyed hearing the history of Rex, the artist who created the painting you enjoy. Did he have someone who loved him?


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