Collaboration: Marjorie Maddox and Karen Elias
Two Hearts, Two Windows by Karen Elias
Poems by Marjorie Maddox. Photographs by Karen Elias.
—after the photograph by Karen Elias Two Hearts, Two Windows
together they stare
not at each other
but at the worn world
beyond arm’s reach.
There: the child, alone,
hopscotching away her worries.
And there: the single blue jay dotting
the drab day with color.
What is no more
and what is still
keeps moving through
the familiar view. “Remember…?”
one laughs or sighs, turning
again toward the other,
[Previously published in Love & the Pandemic (Moonstone Arts Center) and forthcoming in Every Day Poems and in Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts)]
Two Hearts by Karen Elias
Day Is Done. Is Beginning.
Evening grays into rest:
low light, cool earth;
cushion of moss;
scent of clover or pine
that fastens the mind
to the living beneath,
around, or above
the expanding arc
of our hearts if only
we’d breathe in
the pulse and hum
of the land and the one
beside us now, reclining
like this on dirt that holds
and enfolds us in Earth’s
quiet comfort of calm,
this needed rhythm
of rest/rise/repeat singing
us toward each day’s
shimmering season of sleep.
Whether with Borders by Karen Elias
Whether with Borders
—after a composite photograph by Karen Elias
These seasons, you’re never sure whether
the weather of now steps through
or over the barbed-wire borders
of others’ spaces, but here the clouds—
as textured as clogged lungs—hover
precariously close to the past of then. Face
it; each night, you still breathe in faces
clamoring across borders—their weather
of worry: the wind that stalls and hovers
over the landscape of you. Born a nomad, you threw
shadows across lightning; watched clouds,
heavy but mute, re-form foggy borders.
Spaces, wide and open, still haunt, the sky a bad border
you can’t evict. Her mottled, gray face—
begging always for mercy—keeps clouding
the view. Weather, whether, the calm eye of whatever
blur in the whirlwind you try to step through
into space that fences home, hovers
in the sun-streaked rain that hovers
with its empty promise over the bare soil. Borders
call from across the horizon. You yearn to walk to and through,
to hold close your cloak of questions and face
the unreliable temper tantrums of weather
prophesied in each Rorschach of clouds.
Fair skies/foreboding? The clichés of memory choose “cloudy,”
that fifty percent chance of happiness hovering
over your front porch seconds before you decide whether
to step off into the forecasted storm, just beyond your borders,
the ones that make you feel safe, but aren’t. You face
the inevitable, wandering wind; hitchhike through
any opening into the future, now through,
you promise, with all that’s past. The back-lit clouds
beckon, and your aging, weathered face
forges on into the unpredictable. Hope hovers
in the breeze you breathe beyond borders
in that lush language that uncovers whether
or not each wave of weather crosses over and through
to broader spaces, gathering ancestors, former selves, all that hovers
so close now to hope, to your un-cloudy, border-less face.
[Previously published in Glint]
Love-in-a-Mist or Devil-in-the-Bush?
–after a series of photographs by Karen Elias
O, pink antennaed aliens,
sinister and spindly,
your sci-fi stamens snaking
from Pennsylvania’s backyards
into the arctic frames
of Carpenter’s The Thing,
will your blooms erupt?
No warmth, no safe
watermelon stripes of spring.
From the mist,
the monster emerges.
Your bald buds curl and crack,
bending even now
toward isolation’s grey,
toward the bleak, frigid days
we know are lurking
beyond the camera.
Marjorie Maddox, winner of America Magazine’s 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist); Local News from Someplace Else; Perpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); children’s books; Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Her newest books Begin with a Question (Paraclete Press) and collaboration with photographer Karen Elias, Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts), are due out in 2021.
Dr. Karen Elias taught college English for 40 years and is now an artist/activist, using photography to record the fragility of the natural world and raise awareness about climate change. Her work is in private collections, has been exhibited in several galleries, and has won numerous awards. She is a board member of the Clinton County Arts Council where she serves as membership chair and curator of the annual juried photography exhibit.
Elias and Maddox are engaged in an exciting, mutually inspiring project, combining poetry and photography in creative collaboration. Their work has been exhibited at The Station Gallery (Lock Haven, PA). In addition to Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For (Shanti Arts 2021), additional collaborations have appeared in such literary, arts, or medical humanities journals as About Place, Cold Mountain Review, The Ekphrastic Review, The Other Journal, Glint, and Ars Medica.
Photographs by Karen Elias, used by permission with these poems.