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Etch a Sketch Memory Rewritten

Chiaruscuro (Light to Dark) An original poem

By Natalie Frank, Ph.DPublished 3 years ago 2 min read
Source: Anonymous (CC BY 2.5 IN)

The sun, hot

The bikini a jungle print

A favorite

Water splashed over the spotted yellow cheetahs

In the tall green grass

To cool the body beneath

This before the sun was ruled bad

And sunscreen a must

A baby oil mercurochrome tan de riguer

Of envied teens

Bleach blond in hip high cut bikinis

Later at camp I would go

Feed marshmallows to the alligators

Camp on vacation, an odd idea

But I won’t let myself think

That even on vacation

My presence was still unwelcome

Sent to feed large scaly beasts

With other stranger children

Likewise foisted off on transitory counselors

There for just beer money

Strangers it doesn’t make sense to befriend

Since tomorrow they’ll be gone

Or you will

Turning the card over, it is as blank as the

Worth of a child never played with

Never read to

Called smart because she learned to do everything early

What choice did she have?

Only three words break the stark white

“Hilton Head Island”

The late summer afternoon sun reasserts

The deepening shade of the trees

Around the gator’s glen

We stand behind a chain link fence

Lethargically throwing the white confections

At a gator's nose

Freeze frame in vacation early evening

The vision of a girl who didn’t know better

Didn’t want to face what it could mean

Convincing herself that it was perfectly lovely

An affected phrase on the tongue of a ten-year-old

But didn’t all vacations by definition

Have to be perfectly lovely?

Surrounded by Nancy Drew Books and find the word puzzles

Paper dolls, loopy loom, pink plastic knitting spool

And some sort of learning book – basic math functions maybe

Which I was expected to work even when school was out

Perfectly lovely, she whispers to her self

Yes, perfectly lovely

It keeps the velvet black reality

Sharper than an alligator’s teeth

At bay a bit longer

She takes a deep breath of lengthening air

Tastes the first hint of purple shadows

Looks down once more

At what is just a postcard memory

Easily overwritten and refocused

Black and white

And white and black

As she looks

The image fades

Like an etch a sketch image

Unable to be seen

In the light of

The streetlights’ glare

. . .

This is my first attempt at what is known as a Chiaruscuro poem. This technique is based on the work of Giuseppi Ungoretti, a soldier during World War II who used contrasts to find the beauty even inside the horror of battle.

One contrast he used is the idea of saying less to say more, something I have yet to master. This technique is scary because it means you are trusting your audience can fill in the blanks and not infer meaning that you don't intend or meaning that is counter to what you intend.

The other technique that he used was that of transition in time, describing events that went from morning to night of vice versa. The change in time was accompanied by a shift of dark to light or vice versa. This is the technique I attempted to focus on in this poem

. . .

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sad poetry

About the Creator

Natalie Frank, Ph.D

Psychologist by training, writer by choice. Managing Editor (Serials, Novellas) LVP Press. Behavioral health & other topics; fiction & poetry. Other articles: Medium, Hubpages. My first volume of poetry, Disguised I Breath, In Love I Hold.

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