1/07 Weekly creativity contest winner & new prompt
Quite a constellation of terrific entries for this week’s creativity contest prompt: “stars.” Our winner is Debra Bellon, for this beautiful poem:
You might have been born in Byzantium
child of mine, my dark-eyed child
and not in some grey suburban room
with the blinds half closed,
the 6:03 commuters sweeping past,
as though somehow unaware
of this, our sacred moment.
You might have known empires, palaces, elephants, kings;
built temples on secret mountains, followed
the summer moon through all the winding
shadows of the unmapped earth.
Or is it only another mother thinking, in disbelief,
that somehow, years ago, you were not so much as an idea
you of the endless sea
you of the bright star
From Jennie Johnston, a gorgeous quilt entitled “Blanket of Stars.” Jennie writes: “I pulled up these photos of a piece I did in 2005. This was a gift for a friend’s baby girl. To this day it is the first image that comes to my mind when I think of stars. The idea of being wrapped in stars stuck with me for a long time and there is nothing nicer to be wrapped in than a blanket. It was one of my first medium scale quilting projects. The stars were appliqued in many different ways. I hoped that it would be colourful and fun enough for a kid, while being interesting enough to stay with her as an adult.”
From Marsanne Petty, two entries! An image and a short prose piece. Welcome to Creative Construction, Marsanne 🙂
a) Last year my mother and I went to a nearby town that has a huge mansion and they had decorated it for Christmas. In the ballroom, they had made a virtual winter wonderland — filled with snow, several white and silver trees, dozens of small white birds, and an actual snow queen. I really loved it, but of course, I don’t have a ballroom, so I made do with my dining room. I purchased a white tree and decorated it with all ornaments of silver, white, and glass. It turned out really lovely, in my opinion. I had some fake snow around the tree and oodles of snowflakes. This star was one of the decorations on that tree. I bought it from a store over in Jacksonville that was going out of business and they had tons of ornaments on sale. So, this is the first year my little silver star has been used, but I think that it has enjoyed the season.
b) The Stars
“The stars,” she thought. “If only I could reach the stars.” Her heart pounded as she lay in the bed near the window, the curtain blowing in the warm summer breeze.
Her head hurt and she only wanted to escape the pain. Throughout the years, she had made every effort she could, she had tried to make him happy, tried to make sure that anything she said wouldn’t set him off again. Of course, it never worked.
Neither did the halfhearted disguises she tried to implement to hide his hatefulness, his disdain for her. The long dark hair that she let drape casually over the sides of her face, covering her cheeks and the inevitable bruises left by his individual fingers. The long sleeved shirts every day of the year, to cover the marks on her upper arms where he grabbed her to slam her against the wall. The jeans to cover her legs where he kicked her when she was down. Everyone knew it was a futile attempt to hide insanity – his for treating her the way he did; hers for taking it for so long.
She no longer knew what to do, only knew that it had to come to an end. The catalyst had come –- a trip to the emergency room that couldn’t be avoided –- a shattered wrist. Of course, they all had questions and she answered them the best she could, all the while protecting him. Three days they kept her –- two surgeries on her wrist. A hope that she would one day regain full usage of it, but no promises from the doctors. No one could promise her anything.
They sent her home with a prescription for painkillers and something to help her sleep. Her wrist would be in the cast for four months. He was scared to come visit her, scared to come pick her up; afraid that the police would be waiting for him. Her friend that lived in the apartment above her drove her to the pharmacy and then to the apartment building. Her friend helped her up the stairs and left her, telling her if she needed anything, to please call.
A sixty-day supply of Oxycontin and Ambien. She looked them up online before he came home. Both addictive, both potentially toxic. A story about a two-year-old girl who accidentally took one of her grandfather’s Oxycontin pills. Luckily, her mother found her before she slipped into a coma and never woke up.
He didn’t believe that she had protected him; didn’t believe that no one would come looking for him. He took his anger and disbelief out on her. After seemingly endless hours, he finished his rage and left to go drinking. She crawled to the bed with her medicines and a bottle of water.
“The stars,” she thought over and over. “Safety in the stars. A savior in the stars.” The warm summer breeze bathed her body in comfort. “If only I could reach the stars, there would be no more pain.” Her thoughts fell further and further apart, her breathing shallower. Her last thought was of the stars and the safety they could provide from the evil that her life had become.
When he opened the door, the curtains fluttered in the breeze, the wind blowing her dark hair across her face: an angel bathed in sunlight.
From Cathy Coley, a poem:
Greenhouse Effect Northeast US Winters
I sound like an ol’ Downeaster
discussing the weather — ayup,
and walking uphill both ways through the snow.
I remember lakes that froze so fast,
fish suspended mid-swim
in black ice a foot or more deep.
Walk out to mid-lake, and brush away
dust of a deep-cold snow: tiny flakes,
fairy crystals, the scratch waste of skates,
find a clear view of that frog whose legs
couldn’t pump him fast enough to beat the freeze
to the steady forty-five degree mud bed below.
I remember night dark so thorough,
no street or house lamp cleared
a mountain shadow where eons past
glaciers broke loose and cut a path deep,
left a hanzel trail of boulder deposits,
composite unknown to the region, but familiar
a thousand Canadian miles north.
The lakes, the end of glaciers’ exhausted walk,
where they stopped, sat down, stayed and waited for the sun.
I remember clear dark winter nights, windless and bitter cold.
Skating or walking out to the middle of those glacial pools,
in Adirondacks, Berkshires, White or Green Mountains,
and lying down, face up to the stars,
listening to the creak and crack of old
wood ships rocking on the still Atlantic,
but it was that thick black ice I lay on,
bundled close, my nose stinging, only thing exposed.
I remember looking up at those winter stars, only source of light,
The cold pressing on through layer upon layer,
The night clear as stone, black as the ice,
a mere hint of blue from a million distant points of light.
In the bleakest of January,
the night, the ancient brilliant stars.
From Cathy Jennings, a digital image in Corel Painter, along with a behind-the-scenes peek at its creation! Cathy writes: “here is my stars entry. there is a little story to this. i was working on this on the couch with my cat oskar. he is the kitty in the piece. he sleeps on my head at night. often i wake up with a paw on my face or patting my hair. this is what goes on when the stars are out.”
in the photo of the “helpers,” oskar is the grey one. i needed to get up for a break and when i went back to work on my piece, someone took my spot. the other “helper” is lilly. it takes a lot to get around all the obstacles to making art.
From Kelly Warren, a poem:
They lay on the dock
under a blanket of wool
with a blanket of stars above.
Holding on to the feeling,
legs and fingers interlaced,
like lilies floating on the water below.
Hearts beating loudly,
breath held anxiously,
in tune with the rhythm of the night.
Pure longing emerging,
Two souls tightly connecting,
A moment witnessed by the heavens alone.
Star-crossed lovers whose time never aligned,
they experienced a love still blessed.
The gift is the memory…
it’s still etched in the sky,
and in my heart, as I hold my breath.
From me (Miranda), a digital image:
This week’s prompt: “Snow”
Use the prompt however you like — literally, or a tangential theme. All media are welcome. Please e-mail your entries to email@example.com by 10:00 p.m. eastern time (GMT -5) on Tuesday, January 13, 2009. The winning entry receives a $10 gift certificate to amazon.com. Writers should include their submission directly in the body text of their e-mail. Visual artists and photographers should attach an image of their work as a jpeg. Enter as often as you like; multiple submissions for a single prompt are welcome. There is no limit to how many times you can win the weekly contest, either. (You do not have to be a contributor to this blog in order to enter. All are invited to participate.) All submissions are acknowledged when received; if you do not receive e-mail confirmation of receipt within 24 hours, please post a comment here. Remember, the point here is to stimulate your output, not to create a masterpiece. Keep the bar low and see what happens. Dusting off work you created previously is OK too. For more info, read the original contest blog post.