DUET by CB Follett & Ginna Fleming
A Poet and a Photographer in a conversation
of words and images
CB Follett, Marin County Poet Laureate (2010-2013), winner of the 2001 National Poetry Book Award, and nominee for numerous Pushcart Prizes, and Ginna Fleming, prize-winning social documentary photographer exhibited internationally, met in the Photo Forum of the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in California. Together they have created a beautiful pairing of words and images in this stunning full color book.
The shadow of Earth consumes the face
of the moon like a shuttering lantern
across the evening sky.
The shadow eats the moon coming,
disgorges it going.
The moon seems consistent
in its lack of attention,
affected by neither the seizure
nor release of its light,
like those who remain unaware,
unconcerned about each step I make
in my new black shoes
although in the end
every small tender movement
connects along some thin wire
stretching between us,
from which hang those delicate
bells we almost hear.
Poem by CB Follett from "Gravity and Tides"
He didn’t have to drink the hemlock,
I begged him, but he would do it,
cannot live with myself, he said.
What about me, alone now, with three sons,
and your precious friends no help. Oh,
they planned your escape but you refused
so they all sat around listening to you
discourse until the end.
Old man, you would have been dead soon enough,
and I, widow of your fame, fancy funeral meats,
I would have made them myself,
basked in your glory.
Your pupils, Plato and his cave, and
Xenophone, they would have seen to us,
food for the children, and a rainproof roof.
Our youngest still a babe in arms.
Remember the day, everyone remembers,
when I got so riled I emptied the piss-pot
over your head. You laughed and winked,
“Did I not say that Xanthippe’s thunder
would end in rain?” Oh but we were
a fine pair, were we not, for in private I
was lusty, and yet could hold my own
against your questing, questioning mind.
You said you loved my wild spirit,
that Yellow Horse was a perfect name,
that my woman-anger helped you learn
patience. Were you patient with your
scholars, with the city fathers, all the
youths and maidens you rolled in our bed?
Pericles strode around declaring for liberty and you,
young and idealistic, drank it like wine. Soon,
down in the market, you sat all day:
teaching they called it, pontificating
said the neighbors, lying said the elders,
procrastinating, I said, you
who should have been training our sons.
And I, much younger than you, more Plato’s age
or even the callow sycophants. I had hoped
by now, women would be raised up.
You tried. One of your best lines
that “smart women should be as educated as men”.
Oh they didn’t like that. Couldn’t even share
mathematics with each other. Oh dear,
if the common man tried to understand
the polyhedron it would drive him mad.
Well, I had no trouble with all those facets.
though I had to pretend you’d never shared it.
When did you stop being the lovable town eccentric?
When was it enough to fill the guilty jar with votes?
Why not accept exile, over the slow paralysis of death?
Were we not enough, your wife, your futures?
And now, all that official remorse.
Meletus put to death, the other accusers
banished, and a fine bronze statue
of Socrates in the Hall of Processions.
Thank goodness we had only sons.
I would be ashamed to raise daughters
in this country, this Athens, this agora
where all we are good for is finding fresh eggs,
pomegranates and bread warm from the ovens.
Why did the gods give us brains only for
frustration and the mask of Melpomene?
Poem by CB Follet from "True North" one of the Compass series