This poem was chosen for a musical response by our Featured Composer, Sherry Paige.
Music by Sherry Paige – Copyright 2019 Pigg Pen Music
for Alison Streets
When Alison posts her photos of flowers
she must think we just see them as her hobby,
but in their shapes and colors I sense power,
the blossoming and failings of the body.
She must think we just see them as her hobby,
though in the Dog Rose’s pistil, a different bloom —
the blossoming and failings of the body,
like the ovarian Purple Iris’ empty womb.
In the Dog Rose’s pistil, a different bloom,
one recognized in nature by O’Keefe:
in the ovarian Purple Iris’ empty womb,
she caught the essence of woman in bas-relief.
Recognized in nature by O’Keefe,
Pink Sweet Pea suggests labial folds;
she caught the forms of woman in bas relief,
but denied the metaphor the image holds.
Pink Sweet Pea suggests labial folds,
so, too, the cracking fissures at Mammoth Caves.
I can’t deny the metaphor the image holds,
when nature paints the body from birth to grave.
I get chills viewing fissures at Mammoth Caves,
but in their shapes and colors I sense power.
Nature paints the body from birth to grave,
I recall, when Alison posts photos of flowers.
Hayley Mitchell Haugen holds a Ph.D. in English from Ohio University and an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington. She is an Associate Professor of English at Ohio University Southern, where she teaches courses in composition, American literature, and creative writing. Her chapbook, What the Grimm Girl Looks Forward To, appears from Finishing Line Press (2016), and poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Rattle, Slant, Spillway, Chiron Review, and other journals. Light & Shadow, Shadow & Light from Main Street Rag Publishing Company (2018) is her first full-length collection. She edits Sheila-Na-Gig online: https://sheilanagigblog.com/ and Sheila-Na-Gig Editions.
Art: Water Lilies Redux
Artist Statement: This poem, and especially the line, ‘Nature paints the body from birth to grave,’ gave me all the feels, so I’m matching it with my painting, “Water Lilies Redux.” Both pieces reference classic works (and forms) of art and revolve around themes of womanhood and sexuality. I appreciate the way Haugen modernizes the sestina in this piece which felt like another link to the painting since it utilizes patterning and repetition.
Composer Statement: In this poetic rendering, I see an inspired photographer – yet I can only see Alison through Haugen’s lens – not Alison’s. Love asserts itself anytime one of us is so taken with another as to capture our “taken-ness” artistically. As I read further I imagine the entire journey of this poem as though the reader becomes a small enough creature as to dance in the garden along the edges of petals, then hiking deep into their folds – awed at the ‘pistils’ almost like the stalagmite in Mammoth Cave. The sweet smell goes dank then returns to the sensual, soft, yet denies the intrusion of the sexual. All of one piece this poem is….with a melodic theme that opens, travels, then returns to its object of passion…and closes as the melody fades into recall.