Marjorie Hafer & Karen Elias - Artists

Marjorie Hafer & Karen Elias - Artists

Exhibited at Lycoming Arts Gallery February 2024

Poems composed after the composite photographs by Karen Elias. From Heart Speaks, Is Spoken For, an ekphrastic collaboration with Karen Elias from Shanti Arts 2022. Also available through Otto Bookstore, Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Learn More About Marjorie

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Works of Marjorie Hafer & Karen Elias

Morning Song

Mourning Song for the Earth

Here the stone heart
waits for the tug of tide,

the undertow of pull,
the grainy tabula rasa of mind

lapped clean of conscience.
Or not. Even now,

seaweeds entwine; brittle
entanglements rot in the sun.

The dying snare the dead.
Such rocky shores.

Each dawn, the gulls caw
their crescendo of shriek,

capsized days breaking
into dirge, the cracked

and soulful as lonely
as this sad ballad of loss,

swooping low then rising
in morning’s daily aubade of hope.

Such deceptive beauty:
elegy for the earth.

-Marjorie Maddox

Treacherous Driving
Treacherous Driving

"It's as safe as traveling to work...”
-a cardiologist before performing a transplant

The first night of the blizzard
that stranger inched into Ohio.
Halfway through he skidded
into our snow-spackled lives.
His heart is buried

in my father,
who is buried.
This is the hole
in the stranger, in my father,
in my own cracked
chest, hail cupped in its cavity,
the aorta beginning to freeze.

All winter,
the weather preaches white
lies: fields blank of roads,
a curve straightened,
the even light of sky.

Tonight the breeze is all
icicles, banner-like
from the clouds. Nothing
is moveable
in this treacherous state.

Our wheels spin,
their rhythm: a breath
that pulls us
then stalls. The law
of the body, of the state,
cannot replace the chain
reaction, jackknifed lives,
hope piling into hope.

The man and his heart,
cold on an icy road,
warmed us for weeks
while winter, a clear blue thing,
wafted light.

-Marjorie Maddox


“Fool’s Gold,” shimmers the leaf

letting go of Indian Summer. It’s on its way to crackle but doesn’t look back.

“Silver,” glistens the pavement where it settles,

cracked as old parchment but fluid in its argent-glow.

The stone itself is silent: bronze-kissed, fissured, pock-marked paradox of heart and all our seasons.

-Marjorie Maddox



In the photo within the photo, the small girl waters the earth, 
the dirt-tinged past wedged between twigs in a garden 
fenced-in by stones and memory. The imaginary, the dead, 
the living—all crisscross like brittle vines. Who is looking out 
at the world now? Beyond the bright blossoms, a coffin 
looms small. Or is it a working well? At the edge of the yard lies 
the future. Gray or green? The end of the story lies
in what we choose. The small child waters the earth.

Is she me? Is she you? She knows nothing of coffins
at the edge of the world, just keeps watering her garden,
the seeds she cannot see. She believes someone else looks out
for the rest of the earth, for her. She doesn’t know the dead
sky has something to tell her, the fragile dome already dying
the day pride and desire cracked Eden with the lie
of plucked dominion. All she wants is to look out
at the well at the end of her yard. There, beneath the earth,
more water hides. She believes this, feeds her garden
religiously. Will you tell her? Will I? Soon the coffin
looms larger; the stone wall cracks. Someone is coughing.

A child peers from behind a crumbling fence. Is she the new Eden, dying
again? But still, there is that old photo; the small child loves her garden.
Surely, she can learn to till and plant, to care for the creatures that lie
beyond the boundaries of her own square of walled-in earth. 

Surely, she can look within, then learn to look outside
her small plot. Will you teach her? Will I? A garden is a lookout
for the world, the view long. What will you build? A well? A coffin?
In the photo within the photo, a child waters a new old earth.

Will she replenish the dried-up well, follow the wisest dead
and recover Eden, detouring around all lies?

Will she sense the Christ child there, digging in the garden?

In the photo within the photo, the small girl waters her garden:
there is no fear or drought, no contamination. Look out
at the world. Look in at the sins of omission. Prophecy lies
just beyond our garden walls; the now rusted nails in the coffin 
pollute even our wells. And yet, the small girl is listening. The dead
teach us this. Return with her to Eden. Show her the earth
can still bloom with God’s glory, can deconstruct the world’s coffin. 

The dead rise up calling for mercy. Will you listen? Will I? The earth
waits impatiently. Outside/within us, the secret answer lies: Look—the Garden.

- Marjorie Maddox


Curlew of the New Moon Discovers a Poppy,

discovers on the corrugated 
surface of mud, a few 
surviving petals of grief 
from Flanders Fields,
the curlew’s curved body 
bending down to remember 
where poppies once bled beauty 
before buried by warfare. 
Or the curlew — Genus Numenius, 
bird of the New Moon —
un-buries instead the curved 
brilliance of joy, hallucinates 
a happiness addictive enough 
to be real. 

Plucked by the curlew’s 
sleek beak, the red poppy 
recalls constellation and 
explosion, then tucks itself 
into the curlew’s speckled 
attire of feathers.

Even here 
beneath night’s sickle 
of light: the dangerous 
burst of bloom, the intoxication 
of possibility. 

O curlew, fly back 
to the moon that bore you, 
where stars inhale everything: 
the land of now, sky’s simple curve 
of before. Once there, 
bestow on us this one sign 
of wonder: poppy ignited 
as comet—flight and curve 
over earth—red, moon, and you 
dazzling the planet with awe. 

- Marjorie Maddox



Apart inside, 
together they stare
not at each other
but at the worn world
beyond arm’s reach.

There: the child, alone, 
hopscotching away her worries.
And there: the single blue jay dotting
the drab day with color.

What is no more 
and what is still 
keeps moving through
the familiar view. “Remember...?” 

one laughs or sighs, turning 
again toward the other, 
together inside.

- Marjorie Maddox


Heart, Lichen, Stone

This is what they know:
the dip into frigid;
the shadowed shelter of cave;
the beauty of decay at dusk, at dawn;
the tattooed rays of one more orbit
of earth around a sun that says, “Hold on,
hold on, hold on.” And they want to,
and they do, and they will, lingering
a little longer beneath the open branches
of forest, beside the cool stream of hope,
waiting for you, for me, for whoever
stumbles first down the long path
calling their names.

- Marjorie Maddox