KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Ekphrastic Poem: 125 words

Gainsborough on Another Coast

by Sonja Johanson

After Gainsborough’s Coastal Scene with Shipping and Cattle

There it is—
   the cattle, the boats, men
      struggling to leave
   a still bluff.

   Just yesterday
we held hands, wondered
      what was wrong
   with the boat,
         the scale,

   but what do we know
of skiffs
      or the size of bovines
two hundred years ago?

   How would we measure
booms, or jibs?

   What can we say about light,
or the way
      a thunderhead arises
         to catch its shine

   what we have learned here
watching sun glance
            off faces, nimbus

glowering off
      the rocky ledges,
   our Galloways bellowing
in their own fields,
         and the ferries

   bellowing as they leave
the dock, with us

as they struggle
            to pull away.
Painting by Thomas Gainsborough: Coastal Scene with Shipping and Cattle



Publisher’s Note:

The painting above by Thomas Gainsborough is in the public domain, and the reproduction was downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Sonja Johanson
Issue 6, Fall 2016

is a contributing editor at the Found Poetry Review, and was the 2015 recipient of the Zero Bone and Kudzu Poetry Prizes. She was a contributing writer at the 2015 Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, has performed at Word Portland, and has three chapbooks: Trees in Our Dooryards (Red Bird Press), Impossible Dovetail (Silver Birch Press, IDES), and all those ragged scars (Choose the Sword Press).

Sonja is a Lifetime Master Gardener and serves as Outreach Coordinator for the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. She divides her time between work in Massachusetts and her home in the mountains of western Maine.

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