Oof, today was a day. Worked ten hours straight, with maybe eight minutes taken to nab lunch, followed by two hours at the yoga studio… I am ready to pack it in for the week already. But three more days to go. I’m falling seriously behind with the October submissions challenge, though I’ll try to catch up when I can.

I’ve got France on the mind, I guess. We Write Poems wanted a persona poem, which I’ve done my share of, though I don’t think I’ve ever tried to consider things from the point of view of a 19th century Impressionist. But it’s a bit more timeless than that, too. Anyway, it’s slightly ekphrastic. Here is an example art piece by Monet below:

Très beau!


East is the beginning of pale, China-silk blue,
a cornflower buried in snow coming up over the hills.
And in its wake trail orange peels dragged over
late summer fields, turning over the dew with wind.
We have come right to the edge in our thin jackets,
where land breaks off into air. Easels propped up,
palettes at the ready: we draw tumults of color
with knives along the boards, and flex our brushes.

One milk star blooms its arc across the sky,
opening all the doors of vision as it wanders along.
Two thousand years ago, some Gaulish warrior
gazed at these cliffs and saw the memories of gods.
A tall queen, turned to stone. A monstrous animal
whose arm claws up as its last hope from drowning.
The shadows reach up and domino down the sides,
tumbling stories from all the cracks in the stone.

But we do not concern ourselves with peering: we
stand back, and back, and blur our eyes with tears.
There are so many people in the world painting
stories with hard edges. We only want the curtain
dangling before it, caressed by everyone. This one:
where a western flame bleeds out on a white wall.
There is its flying buttress: how easy it is to mistake
the barest land for the soaring roof of a cathedral.

4 thoughts on “Étretat

  1. vivinfrance says:

    Rather more ekphrastic than persona, but you have written a gorgeous whatever it is. Étretat is not that far from us, but the littoral of the Cotentin is more smooth sand than dramatic cliffs, except in the NE corner.

  2. Ron. says:

    A poet’s exposition of a painter’s soul. Beautiful.

  3. Love the lines
    We have come right to the edge in our thin jackets
    how easy it is to mistake/
    the barest land for the soaring roof of a cathedral.

    Thank you for introducing me to the place of the title. I did not know of this commune.

    What an incredibly unique perspective to take. I enjoy impressionist artwork but would not have considered to speak from within this perspective – and what a unique perspective it would be.

    Thank you.

  4. Viv: I edited the thing and sent it to Ekphrasis. Go figure. ;)
    Ron: glad you liked it!
    HFWZ002: it was one of the favorite locations for the artists, apparently, and it’s easy to see why. I wonder if there are still places like that in the world, where whole schools of art are built around their beauty.

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