After the painting, “Añoranza” (Yearning) by Belkis Ayón

We lit a candle and the flame spread until the sky was singed with it. The fire shed scales and petals and eyes. We dipped our fingers into the whirlpools of the shadows. We were skullcapped. We were cut eyeholes in the cloth to see. We put our arms around one another and this framed a circle with four chambers. Two aortas, two ventricles, four tunnels to the past. One of us missing the lips to speak. One of us blinded. And at the center—a baby, her roseate hand extended. The ripple of candelight like muscle across my inside.

 *This ekphrastic poem is inspired by the work of Belkis Ayón. Permission was given by the Belkis Ayón Estate to title this poem “Añoranza”, which is the title of Ayon’s work on which the poem is based. This piece of Ayon’s was created in 1998.

Ayelet Amittay is a poet and psychiatric nurse practitioner in Oregon. Her poems appear most recently in Whale Road Review, Tupelo Quarterly, and Michigan Quarterly Review. She has received fellowships from the Yiddish Book Center and the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing.

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