So wrong and so right

Picture credit: Britta Benson

Things I want to share today: This week, I have been invited to set the prompt for Word Craft Poetry’s Ekphrastic challenge. It took me quite some time to select a picture. Not for lack of photographs, I’ll have you know!

It felt like quite a responsibility! I mean, hey, I wondered: what if I choose an image that leaves all these lovely poets completely stumped? Flat? Fizzled out?

I thought about the kind of prompts I like myself. Intriguing, but open to all sorts of interpretations. Admittedly, I do have a slightly unhealthy penchant towards the sombre, the macabre. And yes, I quite happily integrate a little bit of decay into my day. Especially now, that we’re in autumn, my favourite season by far. I do enjoy this colourful and vibrant evensong of nature. So many nuances to pick up upon. Every year it surprises me all over again, that there are so many shades of ochre, blood orange and copper. Leaves really do like to dress up for the occasion and deserve our full attention and admiration!

In the end, I chose a picture I took in April this year, in Germany. Here’s why.

We visited my dad’s hometown of Heusenstamm during our Easter break and the moment we went inside the baroque church, my dad – who is usually rather economical with his words – told us story upon story about coming here as a youngster every Sunday, about all the things he was up to with his pals when the service went on for too long, about his first Holy Communion, and how he ruined his shoes, because he decided to climb trees, instead of coming back for prayer…

So many memories of his early childhood simply bubbled out of him, it was such a pleasure to witness. For a brief moment, my frail dad looked, and perhaps even felt, like a naughty wee school boy. I couldn’t stop smiling, which felt so wrong and so right at the same time. Inside this dramatic and theatrical setting – German baroque doesn’t do things half heartedly, so expect nothing but the gloomiest gloom – we had a lovely family moment. My 82 year old dad sported the smirky grin of a mischievous eight year old. Precious minutes!

The decoration you can see on the picture I chose as prompt for Word Craft Poetry watched over us, as we listened to dad’s stories. I remember at the time thinking that these ornaments would have watched my dad grow up over the years, from his christening to his early adulthood, they would have seen dad’s dad and others I never even knew and now, they were looking at my family. Perhaps we’d come and visit this church again in a few years’ time…

This is where my little Shadorma poem picks up the story:

Ancestors
I never knew, walked
past these deep
sockets, set
in cold stone. Bones watch, don’t judge.
I carry your blood.

Here’s the link to Colleen’s blogpage: https://wordcraftpoetry.com/2022/09/20/tankatuesday-weekly-poetry-challenge-no-290-ekphrastic-photoprompt/

Please participate in the challenge and let me know if this picture inspires you too.

Happy Tuesday to you all, and I’ll see you here tomorrow, should you wish!

27 thoughts on “So wrong and so right

  1. I like the photo and the subject! I can imagine High Church and all the ornate decorations to impress on the worshipers that they are sinners and in dire need of salvation! The threat of death and hell is never so imminent as when in church with the above carving!!! Your poem certainly brings your story full circle.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Valerie. These old churches really know how to instill the fear of god into you!!! I do love the ornaments. The church in my mum’s home town is much more colourful and welcoming… Still, religion – no matter what flavour – is simply not for me. But I do love the artwork and music that come along with it and I appreciate churches as places of reflection.

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  2. Britta, your shadorma is excellent! I, too, welcome the Autumn and Samhain. It’s all about the ancestors. I tried to find out more about the sculpture, but didn’t find a thing. The Baroque style is very heavy and ornate, so I can only imagine the atmosphere in this church. Are these carvings or sculptures that decorate the inside like a gargoyle?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These skulls are at the bottom of a memorial plaque in the interior of the church. Just to rub in the message that we’re all going to die… in case we forget. There’s a twin ornament on the other side of the nave, almost the same but with slight variations. So as you enter, there’s death to your left, death to your right. Not exactly subtle, but very powerful. The architect was Balthasar Neumann. German baroque is very, very heavy and overwhelming. After visiting one church, you really need to take a break! Strangely fascinating, though…

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      1. I can only imagine. Many Americans forget how “new” our country is compared to the rest of the world. Think of the history entombed within the walls of this church. I think the piece is fascinating, Britta. I’ll come up with something fitting. 💜

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  3. Fascinating. All of it. This really made me think deep. Death is something we all know will come. And I see nothing off in reminding us. This way, we LIVE with purpose. Thanks for the photo. and this shadorma is lovely. Be well. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Selma! I was getting a bit worried about how people might react to the picture and I completely understand that it’s not to everyone’s taste. I liked your take on the prompt and your explanation ‘this is what I saw’ in the picture.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They are marble or alabaster, couldn’t quite tell. I was fascinated by them straight away. In Europe, the old churches are full of symbols of death. And life. In the end, both go hand in hand and are often very close to one another.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I know the prompt was not to everyone’s liking and I certainly didn’t want to upset people deliberately. My writing is often centred around grief and loss, so for me, death seems a natural topic. Not for glorification or sensationalism, more because it’s a part of life and living. Thanks for reading and commenting. Much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought is was great, Britta. Grief and loss have a huge place in poetry where raw emotional content can be so deeply expressed. Some people will shy away, but that’s perfectly okay. Continue to write to your heart’s content.

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