By Robert Wynne
The Skance is an ekphrastic persona poem, written in the voice of some element from the piece of art (subject, color, frame, etc.) or left out of it (alternate subject, missing color, etc.). There are no specific formal requirements. This form exercises imagination, and challenges the poet to be creative with point of view. In fact, multiple Skance poems could be written by the same poet about the same piece of art, and then turned into a linked series. Humor is encouraged! It can be fun to think about what’s missing, instead of always focusing on what’s present — there are many more things missing, in any circumstance, than there are present. Here are two examples:
Note from a Boat
Pastels were never my best shade
but the nameless art school dropout
responsible for abandoning me here
must have eaten nothing but sherbet as a child.
Behold my framed, dull smudge
in the otherwise empty entryway of Room 313
like every memory: lifeless and undeniable.
You’d think I never had sails at all
but I still hear them snapping taut
as my bow turned through a gust
and bent me with the horizon
toward water’s welcoming arms.
I used to cut through that mirrored surface
like a pelican, hunting. Now glassy eyes
glance once, taking in my two dimensions
as an afterthought, before turning back
to the wonders of a flat screen TV:
images moving so swiftly, it’s easy to forget
that each is nothing more than a still moment
fixing its unwary prey in place
in service of something else, some blank wall,
some clever fiction, some story about
a cloudy day at a marina and a lonely painter
without enough money for oils.
The Other Pearl Earring
— after “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer
Nestled against the dark side of her neck
I never see the eyes which search hers
as if for some hint of what she’s thinking.
I suspect they seek their dim reflections
in the small mirror of my visible twin,
but I can’t gaze through her pale form
into their world, can’t ask them why
they stand and stare at things in frames,
just like they will never realize I’m here,
never know how cool her flesh is to the touch.