“Fern-Earred Angel” (Described in Quatrains)


Fern-Eared Angel

The shell of angel ear so fine
a curve, smaller (perhaps) than earth’s
ball surface (and grey stone), still births
bromeliad, fern whose sprung spine

grows fringed with fingered fronds that reach
into the cemetery air
their reversed message, a green clar-
ion (hushed) call, whose unfurled speech,

pronounced by ear, not lips, by dust–
blocked-breeze accumulation–
a granite annunciation–
seeds all who pass with unstained trust.


The above is a poem written in “enveloped quatrains” for the prompt by With Real Toads, hosted by the wonderful Kerry O’Connor.  As Kerry explains (much more clearly), a famous poem in this form is Tennyson’s In Memoriam, and the prompt included various cool photographs of cemetery statuary.  These, particularly the photo by Isadora Gruye below, reminded me of the beautiful angel I saw (and drew above) on a visit to La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, which had ferns growing from her ear, wings and gown.  

Do visit With Real Toads to read Kerry’s article on this form and check out the other poetry.  Also, if you’ve got time, check out my books!!!!!  Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE, (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco). 1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive. Nose Dive is available on Kindle for just 99 cents! Nose Dive really is very funny and light hearted, and 1 Mississippi is a lot of fun for little teeny kids. 

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23 Comments on ““Fern-Earred Angel” (Described in Quatrains)”

  1. This is just excellent poetry. I love the way you used the form the way you wanted to, with interesting breaks mid-word and enjambment which keeps the pace going so well. i love the description of your angel of the ferns.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    Agree with Kerry–you modernized and cleaned the sentimentality from this form(something I failed to do I think) and you also dispell the illusion that all you write about revolves around fear. The ongoing life in an angel’s ear is imagination at play in hope, and so we sustain ourselves.

  3. Even without your precious sketch, I could envision that lichen and fern laden statue, living and growing in her own unique way, there among the dead.

  4. This is wonderful….”a granite annunciation” I love that. You did a stellar job with the form.

  5. amidemanila Says:

    I love the alliterations… a stone having its own life…

  6. brian miller Says:

    really cool capture k….i like the intimacy in the opening, the focus down to the curl of the ear…the ferns…reversed message…some clever word use as well…i love to go walking the cemetery….have not had the opportunity of late and might need to fix that this week…i find peace there…

  7. I love your creative take on this form, wonderful writing!

  8. You knocked this one out of the park……mastered a difficult form. So well done. I am in awe.

  9. Susan Says:

    Something about the form itself builds trust, “seeds all who pass with unstained trust.” I love walking in cemeteries as you can tell from my photos lately. But this close joy from the ear, curves and green–life growing from a stone in a place of the dead is a deep meditation I have not achieved there. Thank you for sharing it!

  10. Mama Zen Says:

    This is just gorgeous!

  11. Kay Davies Says:

    I enjoyed this so much. I particularly like the final stanza. Well done!

  12. I enjoy your alliteration and I really like the idea in the last line that she seeds people with this fern magic…great write!

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