Ellen Peckham


In the first book of the Raj Quartet
Paul Scott talks of music
Defined as its awareness of breaking silence
And returning into it.

Closing my burning eyes
I lay the paperback aside
Thinking of things which know from where and when they start
And where and when they end.

How in painting the masters know
To pigment’s depth the stroke which finishes:
Daumier’s sketchy surface, Ingre’s polish,
The perfect Chinese wash all start inevitable

The element not sound but space
As when on canvases of equal size
Mountains misted miles beyond inform a horizon
Or just contain a face our fingers might caress.

And how a face with steel-cut bones
Sapphire-lit in an awning’s reflection
Incised in a breath my history as AD from BC,
So clear the start, the end.

Ellen Peckham was born in 1938 in Rochester, NY. She is a poet and a visual artist and has read, published and exhibited across the U.S. and in Europe and Latin America. In 2009 a solo exhibition and readings of her poetry in Spanish and English is scheduled at the new, modern museum of ICPNA in Lima, Peru. She frequently uses both art forms in a single work, the text decorating and explicating, the image illuminating.