Ekphrasis Literature

Strange Fruit | Victoria-Lynn Bell

Inspired by Guggenheim Storylines

The woman sits alone. Clothes drape each side of the mattress like fallen curtains. She perches on the edge like a bird overlooking her nest. The brittle bones and jutting knuckles of her hands are clasped tightly in her lap. She twists them like interlocking gears. Objects cave in around her. Books have been stacked, knocked over, and restacked. The surface of a desk hides beneath an old radio missing a speaker, a single running shoe, office supplies and garbage. The floor is dominated by a a barren crib, the wood bars like ribs curving inwards on an empty chest.

The lamp has no shade over its single bulb. The light seems to pulse from its center, casting shadow into the deep ridges of the woman’s face. The bridge of her nose is sharp and red. She can’t be more than thirty-five, but her eyes are weary. Grooves web out from the corner of each and glisten with wetness. She stares at her palms and winds a shoelace between her shaking fingers.

Beside the bed hangs an array of objects. Wires dangle, precariously supporting a browning sock, a miniature shoe. The remains of a discarded mobile twists at its center, obscuring the shapes of a crescent moon, a star, what could have once been the cutout of a cloud. She sways like the branches of an old tree in a storm as she stands. The shoe’s brother sits in her open palm, creased and worn from her twisting it. She hesitates, then carefully strings it up so it hangs beside its twin, spinning slowly—illuminated by the light from the single lamp.

Kevin Beasley: Strange Fruit

Blue Muse Magazine is a general interest literary magazine published by the students of the English Department at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut. We publish poetry, fiction, and a gamut of creative nonfiction on anything and everything the blue muse inspires us to write.

4 comments on “Strange Fruit | Victoria-Lynn Bell

  1. Pingback: Strange Fruit / Ekphrasis |

  2. Norman Dawkins

    What an awesome piece! The imagery within this piece is pretty remarkable and I love the word choice! I imagine the middle aged-woman being worn down, depressed, lonely and full of anxiety. I also imagine that she is in a tremendous struggle and is dwelling on something of the past. The imagery allowed me take the piece and relate it to my personal life a lot which is what I mostly loved. I think we all can relate to a time of struggle and this piece did a good job putting me there. I loved the line “..obscuring the shapes of a crescent moon, a star, what could have once been the cutout of a cloud. She sways like the branches of an old tree in a storm as she stands.”

  3. Tori-Lynn, this is one of my favorite Blue Muse pieces all semester! I actually did my ekphrasis piece on Strange Fruit as well, so it was really cool to see another perspective on the feel of the artwork fleshed out. You have a knack for using words to produce rich imagery. I envision an exhausted, painfully thin and perhaps manically-depressed artist who is straddling the precarious dividing line between being simply eccentrically messy and being a hoarder. And I particularly like that there are enough ambiguities among all the rich detail that I’m able (as a reader) to craft my own mental interpretation of the character the piece describes.
    My favorite line: “…the wood bars like ribs curving inwards on an empty chest.”

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