A Dominance of Lines

 

 

Snap_the_Whip_1872_Winslow_Homer (1)

In Spring, when Aeolus breathes
across their farms, girls boys lift
diamond butcher paper balsa wood
tied kites into his breath to feel out
currents, pull and sway…to test for
dominance of distance draft and lift.

Should such taunting pastime flag…
especially when Zeus streaks bolts
of lightning from his distant clouds…
their sporting turns to trouting with
live worms on hooks on lines on fish
poles by Naiades’ stream, in wordless
rivalry for the longest rainbow…best
tussle with a catch…finesse in reeling
out a gasping fish onto the grass.

When distant shouts bell whistle,
or the slant of shadow from a tree,
summon them to home, they end
camaraderie for one last sport…
these young contenders on a field.

They grasp hands tight slippery
with dirt spit sweat…link a ragged
crack-the-whip-snap for one last
quick elbow jab, foot trip, arm jerk,
stubbed toe, let go, fall dizzy to the
ground…as they play out their mythic
childhood of no tears, first middle last,
win lose…high tension…limit testing
dominance of lines.

 

Bonnie Marshall

Art by Winslow Homer, 1872

 

4 thoughts on “A Dominance of Lines

  1. was lucky enough to see this painting in the national gallery; it was an emotional moment for me. as well, your poem has so much to offer the reader: the mythic, the wondrous physicality of kids at play, and then the insight of the “dominance of lines.” it’s a powerful poem, one of my favorites from you.

    1. I appreciate knowing this, Michael. Rough and tumble was an important growing up experience for me…thinking good old knockabout, outdoorsy childhood is healthy. I understand the importance of the original. Smiles…

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