Friday, February 6, 2009


This poem is a response to an image prompt on Every Photo Tells a Story. You can see the image here.

She was one so unlike the other girls
she frightened us with her strange dark songs
that hinted of the secret places
inside the nests of swallows,
the alchemy of maple seeds
and the muttering of the bees.

She wore her hair high upon her head
from where it hung like a fountain’s spray,
catching petals and pollen and twigs
while we all wore ours straight and long,
our eyebrows arching with displeasure
just to see her so.

Though we knew she was her papa’s treasure
an only child, her mother gone,
we saw that she was mad;
and cruel as only children can be
we followed her on idle days
to witness her anomaly.

Each sun-kissed day while the asphalt seared
the calluses from our bare feet
the dust rose round us in choking clouds
and the tires stank of hot rubber,
the girl played alone in her deep, green garden
her hands cooly cupping each floral spray
as she sang it into being.

Lulled or charmed by her steady chant
one by one the skippers would climb
onto the pollen-laced arch her fingers made
feeling their way with rough clasping feet
and they rolled out their miraculous tongues
to taste the dew upon her skin,
dew that was sweet as honey.

As the shadows stretched, tired and long
we jeered and spat in the dust,
cruel as only children can be
while Vanessa sat high on a well-worn branch
in her papa’s great old apple tree
singing her strange dark faery song
of butterflies and blossoms.

Rachel Westfall
February 6, 2009


Diane Vogel Ferri said...

Truly lovely Rachel.

Every Photo Tells A Story said...

So hauntingly beautiful! I'm conflicted between feeling sorry for Vanessa and wanting to crawl inside her strange, magical fantasy world. I can't believe you got all this from a picture:)

Was that shameless self-promotion? I think not.

Lisa said...

just lovely- wonderful imagery

Kyddryn said...

Ooh, lush...

Shade and Sweetwater,

christopher said...

I think you are improving as I continue to follow. I believe this is the best yet. It feels like a true story in its own way.

Catvibe said...

I love this. In many ways it kind of reminds me of a year in childhood when I had no friends, and the woods, lizards, mice and streams became my friends.

jozien said...

I love the image you create. If i was a painter....
I also went to the photo that inspired it.It makes me realize the power of words, your poem being so much richer.

RachelW said...

Thank you all for your kind words!

Christopher, I like to think we all improve with practice, but it's probably more about inspiration, the mood of the day etc. And maybe something about spending more than ten minutes on a poem. This one took longer to write than I usually spend, though I find the story-type poems always take me longer than others.

Cat, I spent a lot of time in the woods as a child too... I can relate to that.

Jozien and N, it surprised me too, just how much of a story springboarded off that image. I didn't know what I was getting into! :)

Karen said...

Where, oh where, does this come from? I want to find that place! Wonderful!!

RachelW said...

Karen, you have this place inside of you too... I see it in your poetry. Your work inspires me immensely. It means a lot to me to hear that I can do the same for you!