Jane Zwart & Amit Majmudar

Ekphrasis as Eye Test (by Jane Zwart)

If you wake to a Rothko where the windows
should be, to the dark wearing an indistinct belt
between uneven sashes of glass, one oxblood
shoe-polish, one midnight blue, the problem
is refraction. The light--what little outruns 
the dark--has turned its ankle on the retina,
bouncing false on a trampoline inside your eye.

Of course some afflictions also disappear in the dark,
which swallows the man whole. At night a Reinhardt,
in day the fellow’s fifty-year-old face is a Rembrandt, 
an oval of flesh glaucoma vignettes; blindness
likes to lick the outskirts of likeness first.

Other losses begin in the middle of the field: 
redacting the kiss at a picture’s center-- 
wrapping lovers’ heads in pillow slips; hovering doves
at eye level anywhere hatted men stand. 
They could be anyone, the strangers Magritte painted 
almost as their mothers, maculas wasted, would see them. 

But usually the picture dims proportionally, cataracts
stirring gray into haystacks and ground and dust-ruffle 
sky. Maybe you will finally understand Monet, his play
in thirty acts, his slow lowering of the lights in Giverny.
At last there is nothing left to squint against. 


Ekphrasis as Eye-Test (by Amit Majmudar)

Ecstasy is not to see a stranger’s vision but to say it, 
Echolocating, in your own voice’s 
Existential mirror, 

Ecstasy means to stand outside the  
Ecstatic moment itself. You have to  
Ache toward the vision whose 

Awakens phrases in you that dead 
Reckon the unseen by way of the seen. 
Echo-shaped, you take on the vision’s 
Edges, take an 
Axe to the lake that froze around your legs 
Decades ago. The eye that  
Examines is your self. The stranger’s vision you 
Recreate through 

Expresses through 

From the Authors: These poems are mirror-written. That is, they owe their existence to a collaborative experiment that Amit invented and that he and Jane practice often: the two take turns conjuring a title and then each, within 24 hours, improvises a poem to fill in the shape that the title chalks out, sharing their work only once both have completed the task of writing.

Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Triquarterly, and Poetry, as well as other journals and magazines.

Amit Majmudar is a diagnostic nuclear radiologist who lives in Westerville, Ohio, with his wife and three children. The former first Poet Laureate of Ohio, he is the author of four poetry collections, four novels, an anthology of political poetry, and a translation of the Bhagavad-Gita. Two novels are forthcoming in India in 2022: an historical novel entitled The Map and the Scissors, and a novel for your readers, Heroes the Color of Dust. A memoir, Twin A, is forthcoming in the United States in 2022 as well. He is currently co-creating a graphic novel/web comic, The Kali Yuga Chronicles. Visit www.amitmajmudar.com for more details.