Tabula Rasa, from Genius Loci by Shawna Gibbs
In celebration of National Poetry Month, a collaborative multimedia piece between photographer Shawna Gibbs and poet Diana Engel.
A twilight-glazed table cleared after each flurry of meals, scraped
of wax from years of dripping candles, stands in the still night.
My growing-up years, starless nights on this porch, a distant
street lamp the only glow — I would lay my head against the
dark surface to escape a gnawing loneliness. As I closed my
eyes, chair slats became played strings of a violin, its wistful plea
sweetening the air, the table expanding into an open road. I ran
down its sanded surface into emerald shadows of sheltering trees,
the night, my cloak of invisibility. I dreamed of living in a lushly
bowered tree house where the only watchful eyes were those of
squirrels and birds. This table, a temporary sanctuary from the
din of childhood. When I crouched on the floor beneath it, I
walked into fairy tales as my brothers and sisters ran into woods,
where they built tree forts and swung on giant grapevines. Now
my autumn soul yearns for the extinguished years. My family has
gone — mom, fending on her own. Our lives, like birds seek nests
beyond this porch. But this smooth, cleared table beckons me. Is
the light vanishing? A new narrative begins.
Many thanks to the Open to Interpretation project for their support.
shawnagibbs.tumblr.com / www.shawnagibbs.com