Poet Ellie Schoenfeld gave me a true gift this 4th of July. She allowed me to use her poem, Patriotism, in a painting that will be hanging this month in Gallery 1212's Patriot show. I love her poem. Ellie's words remind me that we are all in this together. I value independence, both personal and national. I also value community, cooperation and collaboration - the lessons we can learn from the earth. Ellie's poem says this beautifully.
When I asked Ellie (who doesn't know me at all!) if I could use her poem in a painting, she responded "You are welcome to use it. I love that my poem might be inspiring someone else to create art!" Her words and actions match her poem.
I often use words in my paintings, but usually in the background. In designing Patriotism, however, I wanted the emphasis to be on the words. My idea was give the background the texture and feel of the earth (see detail below) while letting the viewer breathe in the poem. I lost words over edges - hopefully to make you think more.
May we all learn from the lessons in nature. I do daily. Thank you Ellie Schoenfeld for the reminder. Happy In(ter)dependence Day to all.
Patriotism by Ellie Schoenfeld
My country is this dirt
that gathers under my fingernails
when I am in the garden.
The quiet bacteria and fungi,
all the little insects and bugs
are my compatriots. They are
idealistic, always working together
for the common good.
I kneel on the earth
and pledge my allegiance
to all the dirt of the world,
to all of that soil which grows
flowers and food
for the just and unjust alike.
The soil does not care
what we think about or who we love.
It knows our true substance,
of what we are really made.
I stand my ground on this ground,
this ground which will
recruit us all
to its side.
"Patriotism" by Ellie Schoenfeld, from The Dark Honey.
© Clover Valley Press, 2009. Used with permission from the poet.