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Here is the image of the fresco panel for one of the seven virtues, from a photograph taken by Laura Purdie Salas, who holds the copyright to the photo.

The fresco panel in question depicts "Temperance", painted by Mark Balma on the ceiling of Terrence Murphy Hall at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. You can read more about the art and what it means for the artist and others here, if you're so inclined. Atypically, I didn't go looking for it until it was time to write this here post. Go figure.

This marks the second, but not the last, time that my poetry sisters and I will be doing ekphrastic poems this year - we are doing an every-other-month thing with ekphrasis. The last ekphrastic poem I wrote with my wonderful poetry princesses was "On the Shoulders of Giants". That post includes a link to an explanation of ekphrasis.

by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

When so little makes sense—
a wolf in monk’s clothing,
a blindfolded monkey,
a pig holds up the world (an offering
or a confession?)
Marilyn Moncrow, Cyndi Larkper,
and who can tell what she sings,
if she’s happy,
if she’s free.
When it’s unclear what can be
trusted, what is true,
it is to the birds we must look
for knowing, for holding down
the corners for us all.

Laura gave us our choice of two frescoes - this one and the one for "Hope" - and you can find the poems written by my fellow travelers below:

Laura Purdie Salas
Sara Lewis Holmes
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Andi Jazmon
Tanita Davis
Liz Garton Scanlon

You can find other (unrelated) Poetry Friday posts at the lovely Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's blog by clicking the box below.

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Sara Lewis Holmes
Apr. 1st, 2016 11:33 am (UTC)
"holding down the corners for us all" is the most marvelous, comforting expression... I love the way you bounce from the profound to the funny "Cyndi Larkper!!" and then back again...
Apr. 1st, 2016 04:56 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks, Sara. It was (nearly) a first-take poem.
Apr. 1st, 2016 03:03 pm (UTC)
From Laura (don't know why it doesn't pick up my G+ avatar, etc.)
I love both the wordplay and the way you capture the odd images in such succinct phrases. Whee! And that ending is just so perfect. Happy Birthday, Kelly!

(PS The images show up as broken for me, so I can't see them.)

Edited at 2016-04-01 03:03 pm (UTC)
Apr. 1st, 2016 04:57 pm (UTC)
Re: From Laura (don't know why it doesn't pick up my G+ avatar, etc.)
Hm. Not sure why the image is broken - wonder if it's a browser thing. I may have to check it from something other than Safari. And who KNOWS why LJ doesn't "see" you?

Thanks, Laura, for the comments on the poem and the birthday wishes!
Apr. 1st, 2016 10:52 pm (UTC)
LJ is the monkey wearing the blindfold.

I also love that last comforting line, the irony of lightweight feathered creatures having the strength to hold down those corners for everyone else is wonderful.

This painting is just so provocative and disturbing and weird all in one. The wolf in monk's clothing seems to be wearing expensive shoes. Great bird woman names. I think she's smoking that broccoli. :)
Apr. 3rd, 2016 02:22 am (UTC)
I agree with your take on the painting - provocative, disturbing and weird. I was so focused on the knife behind the wolf/monk's back that I didn't notice his footwear. Well-spotted!
Mary Lee Hahn
Apr. 2nd, 2016 06:37 pm (UTC)
"it is to the birds we must look
for knowing, for holding down
the corners for us all."

Apr. 3rd, 2016 02:23 am (UTC)
Thanks, Mary Lee.
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Apr. 6th, 2016 04:47 pm (UTC)
Crazy Cool
"it is to the birds we must look
for knowing, for holding down
the corners for us all."

You have grown something lovely (and funny!)from something very unusual. Seeing these paintings over and over has imprinted them in my mind!

Happy National Poetry Month! xo
Apr. 8th, 2016 03:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Crazy Cool
The paintings are totally surreal, I must say. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Andi Sibley
Apr. 7th, 2016 03:27 pm (UTC)
I agree with the others - holding down those corners is a delightful way to end the poem. What is essential, what is clear. You've moved from confusion to security in this poem. Well done!
Apr. 8th, 2016 03:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Andi!
Tricia Stohr-Hunt
Apr. 8th, 2016 05:22 pm (UTC)
You know, I was so caught up in the grasshopper watching TV (as others were), that I didn't really **SEE** the rest of the painting. What I love about your poem is that it drew me back in to really look again, so I thank you for that. Your first line made me laugh, because that's what I thought when I saw this painting ... (though my words were more like, "What the heck?!") I'm glad you found something inspiring in this and gave us something so lovely.

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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