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Monday, January 31, 2022


by Suzanne Morris

Sergei Ilnitsky, a Russian photographer of the European Pressphoto Agency, won the 2015 World Press Photo First Prize in the General News Category, Singles, for this image of damaged goods lying in a kitchen in downtown Donetsk, in war-torn eastern Ukraine.

Imagine, just
moments before.

No artist could more deftly
arrange these few articles
while conjuring
a still life in Ukraine.

See the embroidered lace curtain
swept aside to reveal
a kitchen table covered in
dainty muslin,

on which are placed
a small bowl of ripe tomatoes,
a lidded porcelain teapot with
poppies on the side; nearby

stout mugs, an empty tin can,
a cutting board with knives.

The view, tilting from above
and to the left,

the artist’s palette dabbed with
simple colors in homespun hues–
vermilion red, salmon pink,
maize yellow, white, gray blue.

Not seen, but understood:
the chairs drawn near,
a hand reaching for the teapot

to fill the mugs 
and slice tomato wedges
for tea

in the midday light
streaming through the 
kitchen window.

What family had sat 
having tea?

Were the children

Did all escape
the bomb,
exploding in near range:

still life impastoed with
shattered window glass
and dust?

But no, a new color,
burnt umber,
spatters the scene;

it soils the table cover and
collects in indentations of
lace flowers and leaves.

A novelist with eight published works, Suzanne Morris began writing poetry in the context of her fiction.  Eventually she shifted her creative focus from novels to poetry only.  Her poems appeared in No Season for Silence - Texas Poets and Pandemic (Kallisto Gaia Press, 2020) and have frequently appeared online in Texas Poetry Assignment.