KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Ekphrastic Prose Poem: 280 words

Night Moves

by Lorette C. Luzajic
 
—After Northern Lights by Tom Thomson

Robert, at the table. Among scraps of moose leather and round red apples. At cards, he is thin-backed and straight as the arrowheads he collects. The wine is a tumbler of smashed red velvet cupcakes. The air is bitter but even sweeter: myrrh and frankincense, like ancient church. Well, I’ve never had a head for poker, but love any reason to listen to my brother talk. He explains how he dates his artifacts, the stuff the earth gives up to his hands when he’s scrabbling for clues to where we’ve been. Robert likes to work when the rest of us are sleeping. All he needs to see is a lantern and something sort of like a compass that’s sewn inside his DNA. He’s saying things about strata, ribbons of sediment, nicks in stone and other marks that show time and history. I have no idea what he’s talking about. While we dealt out the cards, a cat was howling or maybe it was the moon. The winter was clear and cold when I yanked open the back door to let the sky inside. I stood on this side of the night, looking at the frozen vineyards and the thin trees like guardians of the threshold. The stars were reluctant and bashful, like the night Robert was born. None of us had been sure he was coming home. I counted them, those holes in the sky, tiny seed pearls blinking through the fabric of the night. Without him in this world, who would unravel the mysteries of the universe? He makes buried objects tell their stories. He brings the hidden things to light.

 

Northern Lights: painting by Tom Thomson, Canada (1917)

Publisher’s Note:

The original oil-on-panel painting Northern Lights (1917), by Tom Thomson (18777–1917), is held by the National Gallery of Canada. The reproduction above was downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

 

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