ekphrastic art   

this page will be completed soon – more poet videos to come . . .

Ekphrastic art pays homage to another art form. In the case of poetry, poets write a poem, taking their inspiration from a work of art. 

 

Poets of Southwest Michigan engaged with the Equinox Exhibition artwork under the direction of Elizabeth Kerlikowske, President of Friends of Poetry.

Please click on individual art images to move to the artists' page for further details.

 the poets   

WHAT WE LEARNED LIVING UNDER A PURPLE SUN

By Jennifer Clark

Inspired by Mindi Bagnall, Late Stage: Harbinger

 

Under a purplish-grey sun

smiles slung in hammocks,

no need for lipstick.

 

We became trees, patiently swaying

below spiked rays of this harbinger

of what was to come.

 

Digging beneath the star’s surface,

we discovered secrets, like how

to replicate a thousand suns.

 

Take, for example, 750 acts of kindness

that filled the width of a human hair.

Tossed into open sky, they disrobed

 

darkness, orbited us to a beautiful place.

We took up residence anywhere.

Hosted anyone. And remembered,

 

light comes from somewhere.

Jennifer Clark, ”What We Learned Living Under a Purple Sun” Copyright © 2020 by Jennifer Clark.

All rights reserved.

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LATE STAGE: HARBINGER

MINDI BAGNALL

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of Jennifer Clark reading WHAT WE LEARNED LIVING UNDER A PURPLE SUN.

 

EQUINOCTIAL

By Arnie Johnston

Inspired by Maryellen Hains, Spring Equinox: Waxing Moon Spirit

 

Joseph and his coat of many colors

Spring to mind in this season of rebirth,

As flowers appear amid the dolors

Of still-gray trees and slowly warming earth.

The trees, standing like brothers, know their green

Array may seem no more than fabric where

The favored flowers bright hues will be seen

As patterns stitched in an essential prayer.

But moving through the woods, surrounded by

The stir of growing things, the moon’s clear beam,

Waxing above us like an opened eye,

We know the flowers and trees share Joseph’s dream:

The seasons turn, the equinoxes mark.

Arnie Johnston, ”Equinoctial” Copyright © 2020 by Arnie Johnston.

All rights reserved.

 
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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of Arnie Johnston reading EQUINOCTIAL.

SPRING EQUINOX:

WAXING MOON SPIRIT

MARYELLEN HAINS

AUTUMN SPIRIT 

by Deborah Ann Percy

Inspired by Maryellen Hains, Autumn Equinox: Waning Owl Spirit

The Equinox is the day eggs stand on end, but the owl has no eggs in the fall. She sits on a branch, hidden in a linden tree, high on a Lake Michigan bluff—the sky terribly blue, the newly cold lake unhinged. She sees a woman down below put heavy, flat stones in the pockets of her thick woolen sweater. She watches the woman walk out into the wild waves, farther and farther until she spreads her arms as the owl will spread her wings and is pulled under, down into the dark of winter.

Deborah Ann Percy, ”Autumn Spirit” Copyright © 2020 by Deborah Ann Percy.

All rights reserved.

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of Deborah Ann Percy reading AUTUMN SPIRIT.

AUTUMN EQUINOX:

WANING OWL MOON

MARYELLEN HAINS

 
 

SKY SPIRIT 

by Kathleen McGookey

Inspired by Maryellen Hains, Sky Spirit

The sky spirit is pure motion, motion like a bird swooping, dipping, then flying straight ahead so fast she’s already gone when anyone turns to look, really look, at her. The air separates in waves, a mirage over a hot highway, when she passes through it. In flight, she’s nothing like a paper doll dipped in glue to preserve it. What are her duties exactly? She does not light the stars. She does not guide the airplanes, though she likes to hold up her thumb to cover their triangles of lights. She braids rain and sleet into a beaded curtain and pulls that curtain back to reveal the moon. She gathers the owls’ calls, those mournful almost- human sounds, which turn into strips of paper in her hands. If she could, she would write our fortunes on them, then shower them over us like confetti or rice or a ticker tape parade.

  But any kind of intervention, even quiet words, is not allowed. So she calls in fireflies to perch on her wiry curls while bats dart and weave through the shadows behind her. It is easy work, and she’s grateful to be busy because otherwise, like a parent, she’d have to watch us sleep as all around us trees burn and lies catch fire and she is powerless

to stop it.

SKY SPIRIT

MARYELLEN HAINS

Kathleen McGookey, ”Sky Spirit” Copyright © 2020 by Kathleen McGookey. All rights reserved.

F P O

Click on the image to the left to link to a video of Kathleen McGookey 

reading  SKY SPIRIT.

FALL MOON

By Robin Church

Inspired by Maryellen Hains, Autumn Equinox: a new wave of balance

 

I.

Full moon rises, the maple

leans over the pond to drop 

dead leaves, startling the fish. 

Brown leaves, heavy with water 

Slowly sink on top of stones, 

silt, quietly waiting for frogs

and crayfish to settle in.

Bubbles rise, circles of white.

Maple sap slows, prepared by

cold bark and stiff dirt.

What am I prepared for?

A  murky darkness settling in.

 

II.

When I hold my hands just right

I cup the face of the moon,

milky and mottled. I whisper

in its ear, “Lean over me,

fall down startled

by the sweet pond water

so I can feel

those white ripples

spread along the surface

of my skin."

Robin Church, ”Fall Moon” Copyright © 2020 by Robin Church.

All rights reserved.

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Robin Church reading FALL MOON.

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AUTUMN EQUINOX

MARYELLEN HAINS

 
 

BARN

By Melanie Dunbar

Inspired by Maryellen Hains, Dark Night

 

It was a coyote dream 

I walk into the dark milk house

climb the stairs into the hayloft

 

the long white dress 

my wedding in a dark room 

nothing is certain under autumn’s moon

 

once I dreamed in the dawn 

I dream in the house too 

of air that shimmers in the night 

 

of a door that leads to fields out back

I don’t want to populate my dream-state 

with the circular song of coyotes

 

once I built a labyrinth 

with earth and chalk and stone

I have looked through the broken

 

siding of the barn

it has all collapsed        this entire life

the clouds pull a shroud over the night 

 

cold and crisp as crabapples

my shortcomings in the dawn

I depend too much on dark and light 

 

the coyotes have been quiet 

I thought I’d forgotten how to dream

a month after the loft caved in

 

he said          I’d be fine 

in the barn 

all the windows twist 

 

with failures I dream up

silent at the far end of the barn 

is the white of my dress 

 

open that door and let in the moon 

smoke billows out of the barn

and house

Melanie Dunbar, ”Barn” Copyright © 2020 by Melanie Dunbar.

All rights reserved.

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DARK NIGHT

MARYELLEN HAINS

F P O

Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Melanie Dunbar reading BARN.

 

THE GHOSTS OF DIASPORA 

BRENT HARRIS

Marsha Meyer, ”The Shaman” Copyright © 2020 by Marsha Meyer.

All rights reserved.

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Click on the image to the

left to link to a video of Marsha Meyer reading THE SHAMAN.

THE SHAMAN

by Marsha Meyer

Inspired by Brent Harris, The Ghosts of Diaspora

“Inevitably, though, there will always be a significant part of the past which can neither be burnt nor banished to the soothing limbo of forgetfulness…”― Luisa A. Igloria

 

Within a shimmering slice of quartz cradled in a fired 

curve of cypress, the shaman spirals you back 

into rivers of shadow and spark, where your people 

were uprooted, reuniting spirits split between two worlds. 

 

You must straddle the slit where sun and moon slice the world 

into equilibrium. Where shackles are scarred memories, blood 

red stakes ground your soul, sprout tradition, settle your story

into the place you landed. 

 

Packing the nutty steam of rooibos tea, the tango of chichinga on your tongue, the rhythms that rocked you to sleep, you straddle the metaphor 

of you here and the piecemeal of you there, striving for the tipping points that meld you home. 

 

 

THE MOON IS A DREAM CATCHER

by Arnie Johnston and Deborah Ann Percy

Inspired by Anna Z ILL, Soft Moon Rising

LU: I have strange, terrible dreams. But they recede. They disappear, and I can’t catch them.

 

NA: If you can’t catch them, how do you know they’re strange and terrible?

 

LU: Because I wake up sad.

 

NA: I dream about an imaginary city. Sometimes I walk through it. Sometimes I drive. Or even fly over it. But I know its neighborhoods. It’s unsettling, but familiar.

 

LU: Do your feet hurt when you wake up? Are you out of gas? Are you blinded by the moonlight?

 

NA: No. I like dreaming. Having dreamt. Even when I can’t remember details, I like having been somewhere . . . else.

 

LU: And I like waking up to your soft green face smiling at me.

 

NA: Our dreams rise through us like the moon. And you keep me green and new.

 

LU: Like your beautiful face. We’re three-quarters of the way to our final dream.

 

NA: I love your sweet lunacy. Our night flights carry us above the ordinary.

 

LU: Good that the strange and the awful vanish. I’ll fly along with you in your green dreams.

 

NA: We’ll catch them together.

 

LU: And bring them back.

Arnie Johnston and Deborah Ann Percy, ”The Moon is a Dream Catcher” Copyright © 2020 by Arnie Johnston and Deborah Ann Percy. All rights reserved.

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SOFT MOON RISING

ANNA Z ILL

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Arnie Johnston and Debra Ann Percy reading THE MOON IS A DREAM CATCHER.

AUTUMN RETURNS

by Robert Ed Post

Inspired by Anna Z ILL, Autumn Returns

Summer clutches the last

of the brown-eyed susans, 

A musk on the wind.

Our cinnamon ears,

our runny noses 

seek donuts. 

Robert Ed Post, ”Autumn Returns” Copyright © 2020 by Robert Ed Post. 

All rights reserved.

Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Robert Ed Post reading AUTUMN RETURNS.

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AUTUMN RETURNS

ANNA Z ILL

 
 
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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Margaret DeRitter reading HOPING TO

SEE ANOTHER SPRING MOON.

HOPING TO SEE ANOTHER SPRING MOON

by Margaret DeRitter

Inspired by Anna Z ILL, Spring Moon

Fires churn up the West Coast,

flattening homes to foundations,

turning cars to charred bones.

 

Helicopters swoop in to save humans,

but animal ashes fill the air, mingling

with evergreen remnants. 

 

At the edge of this hell, where flowers

still linger, a grizzly cradles two starlings

and longs for a ride to the sky.

Margaret DeRitter, ”Hoping to See Another Spring Moon”

Copyright © 2020 by Margaret DeRitter. All rights reserved.

SPRING MOON

ANNA Z ILL

SOUP

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Inspired by Alexa Karabin, Equinox: Day

Giant yellow bulb above the sign

for the Wooster General Store, stormed by millers

and moths, frantic in our hair, newly hatched

still spotted, tattered wings on those setting

with the next moon. Throw that memory

in the soup bowl, bulb and all.

 

Screenless windows open for three days

in a room abandoned by the runaway then windows

shut, door shut. What is that noise? Hundreds 

of just-hatched moths, swirling vortex needing brooms, 

a vacuum, rolled-up newspapers, smashed bodies 

stuck to walls and ceiling, moth husks in Gran’s jewelry box.

Throw it in the soup—cameos, scatter pins, 

gold leaf and all.

 

Repaint the room yellow to cover the slaughter.

Use left-over paint to clarify the soup, use butter.  

Let it ripen under the sky.

When maple spinners drop and cottonwood angels

fall into it, they add the richness of clover honey.

Leave the light burning on the porch.

 

On the given day, plate soup on a rough disk

and toss it like a frisbee into the sky: a sun

you can look at, a sun you can touch that doesn’t burn,

rich with personal messages, mine different from yours

in the constellation of wings, rings, lovely broken things.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske, ”Soup” Copyright © 2020 by Elizabeth Kerlikowske.

All rights reserved.

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of Elizabeth Kerlikowske reading SOUP.

EQUINOX: DAY

ALEXA KARABIN

EQUINOX: DAY - DETAIL

ALEXA KARABIN

 
 

EQUINOX: NIGHT

by Scott Bade

Inspired by Alexa Karabin, Equinox: Night

everybody dies 

somewhere think about it alone 

there are moments 

in the past right here

like broken glass  

and all of the light 

of an intact bottle or a father 

is gone and what he speaks 

from the damp depths 

emerges a thing new & wise 

with all darkness 

what we feel present in absence

when the sun is shining

even when we are together

full of cicadas and sun

that’s how it feels today

and waking in grass

that once held the body

alive in front of our eyes

now speaks up to us and

through the soil’s black vest

and therefore carrying

all light

which is grief in relief

Scott Bade, ”Equinox: Night” Copyright © 2020 by Scott Bade.

All rights reserved.

EQUINOX: NIGHT

ALEXA KARABIN

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Scott Bade reading EQUINOX: NIGHT.

 

SIREN SONG

by Emily Daniel

Inspired by Courtney S. Nelson, Equanimity

what breath 

the throat betrays

what sound escapes 

this sliver sized breach

 

no outstretched arms to welcome 

no hands to hold

every entrance sealed 

 

and though I am fierce with want

for your voice

the bright belly of your laugh

 

your silence                is mercy

Emily Daniel, ”Siren Song” Copyright © 2020 by Emily Daniel.

All rights reserved.

Emily%20Daniel%20Nelson%20Video%20Photo_

Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Emily Daniel reading SIREN SONG.

EQUANIMITY

COURTNEY S. NELSON

 

THE DAY THE SUN WAS BORN

by Lynn Pattison

Inspired by Sniedze Janson-Rungis, The Tree Where The Sun Was Born

was long–

clouds spawned and choired the sky

simple cells on muddy shores discovered light

 

was what they'd hungered for    then the suddenness

    of green       oh the tiny lungs of emerald mosses   grasses   leaves

sipping new-rich air                 oceans reflected glassy praise

 

and slipped warmth to life below

stone and clay and mountainside absorbed heat

till the air clanged like belfry bells        then rose in columns

 

and began rivering eastward      circling      swooshing through passes

    looping low over water         laying the course it would follow ever after

chilling       warming           beating and soothing

 

goosebumps on the salamander relaxed

    to orange polka dots      while all around muck and mud dried

to beds     warm and rich       for rooting       growing

 

Adam and Eve named       aloe     amaranth      ant

 yarrow      zenobia     zebra       and the rest

      each new plant deciding how to sow seeds

 

sharp thorns           unfurl its leaves

    arcing past a mountaintop       Sun snagged

in the limbs of a wind-sculpted tree and as it caressed

 

and thanked her      shed its mineral tears

 she whispered stories of green covering the planet–

     acorn to sequoia               she murmured

 

fire      storm     season     cataclysm        the boxful of ills

    loosed upon the world             but also

the steady blessing she would pour and pour and pour

Lynn Pattison, ”The Day The Sun Was Born” Copyright © 2020 by Lynn Pattison.

All rights reserved.

THE TREE WHERE

THE SUN WAS BORN

SNIEDZE JANSON-RUNGIS

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of Lynn Pattison reading THE DAY THE SUN WAS BORN.

HER STORY

by Elizabeth Kerlikowske

Inspired by Sniedze Janson-Rungis, Solar Totem Tree

First the totem was just a broom who’d misplaced many of her spokes, so the people planted her up on the hill, (they believed any wood was always willing to grow) stark against twilit sky, put her on their postage stamps, named a drink after her, not exactly a weather vane, but a weather sifter. The sun was from The Dollar Store, harmless, unbreakable and ran hamster circles in the former broom’s spokes where she was stuck, thanks to Western fire winds.From topmost branches the sun’s benevolence misted low trunks and root balls blue, which looks like paint in a dry year. Usually mist takes the form of moss. Not roiling magma, this sun’s center was hollow like a dream catcher.  The sun learned to turn colors and blink like the weather ball on a hill in the next city. She was the first to hear Telstar. Her listening was cosmic, more intense than sight. Part of her structure was radar. Her provenance was day; she did not interfere with night.The tree gave her stature, leaning over the people like a mountain-side saint.

Let each sun discover her own world. Celebrate.

Elizabeth Kerlikowske, ”Her Story” Copyright © 2020 by

Elizabeth Kerlikowske. All rights reserved.

SOLAR TOTEM TREE

SNIEDZE JANSON-RUNGIS

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Elizabeth Kerlikoske reading HER STORY.

 
 
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AN EVER CHANGING CONSTANT

                Moon Cycle: mid-April to mid-May, 2020

by Julie Stotz-Ghosh

Inspired by Linda Rzoska, An Every Changing Constant

Everything is going to be alright, you said.

I balance eggs on the branches of trees.

Pear blossoms make tiny white fists.

I hold your voice in my hands.

 

I balance eggs on the branches of trees.

The sun is shining—my spirits are high, you said.

I hold your voice in my hands.

On the phone, your voice is soft.

 

The sun is shining—my spirits are high, you said.

But today there is no answer.

On the phone, your voice is soft.

We run into spring, trailing a monarch-shaped kite.

 

Today there is no answer.

We hike through dunes.

We run into spring, trailing a monarch-shaped kite.

We skip stones into still water on a great lake.

 

At the dunes, I ask for an answer.

A white bird circles the clear blue sky.

We skip stones into still water on a great lake.

Suddenly, a white feather at my feet.

 

A white bird circles the clear blue sky.

It disappears when I look twice.

It leaves a white feather at my feet.

My sons laugh and run down the dune.

 

I think the moment will disappear if I look twice.

Do we make our own meaning?

My son laughs, holds the full moon in his hand.

I take a picture to keep the moment still.

 

Do we make our own meaning?

The moon balances on the branch of a tree.

I take a picture to keep the moment still.

It’s time for pink magnolias, again.

 

The moon balances on the branch of a tree.

We bury you beside Mom, beneath the Norway spruce.

It’s time for pink magnolias, again.

We place the flowering branches on your graves.

 

We bury you beside Mom, beneath the Norway spruce.

Magnolia blossoms open, big as my hand.

We place the flowering branches on your graves.

Everything is going to be alright, you said.

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Click on the image to the left

to link to a video of  Julie Stotz-Ghosh reading AN EVER CHANGING CONSTANT.

AN EVER CHANGING CONSTANT

LINDA RZOSKA

Julie Stotz-Ghosh, ”An Ever Changing Constant” Copyright © 2020 by

Julie Stotz-Ghosh. All rights reserved.

LONG STORY SHORT

by Deborah Gang

Inspired by Nancy Stroupe, Love Letter

My husband wrote me one letter. It was dated, February 4th, 1980

and I kept it as I keep all letters, some emails, printed, select birthday 

cards, and photos I look good in. No one will choose to sort through 

 

the mass––scarcity determines value––so I’m parting with enough 

that the leavings will seem more gift than burden. There is only one letter 

because we were apart in a lengthy way only once. It’s both travelogue

 

and love letter. There is longing. He didn’t much want to go on a 

three-week trip with his father. Oddly, it’s as if I’m reading someone 

else’s mail, the details are so new to me. On Sundays, it seems,

 

we played cribbage after 60 Minutes and then bought candy from 

the corner store. He misses this. He misses everything. How little remains 

of these two, so young that not long before they met, they couldn’t 

 

rent a car. If our cells turn after seven years, then these people are

strangers to our current selves. We drive the same back roads they did 

to the little cabin–-unaffordable for the newly-weds and their newborn––

 

but they did it anyway. The baby is gone too, replaced by a man surprised 

at his grey hairs. Today the drive is deceptively the same, the familiar white 

farmhouses, the trees that meet thrillingly above the narrow road, the full sun 

 

lilacs. I want to pull over and steal some like she did, but the shoulder has 

crumbled and our car is much bigger than theirs. The letter, the cabin, the babies.

Everyone young–-no funerals yet. Happiness payable later in grief. Did they know that? 

 

Still, the aging world is beautiful, more beautiful. The elusive lilacs, 

the tree tunnel, babies grown to men. The afternoon light will find its way 

through high trees to dance on the siding of a small plain house.

Deborah Gang, "Long Short Story” Copyright © 2020 by Deborah Gang. All rights reserved.

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LOVE LETTER

NANCY STROUPE

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of  Deborah Gang reading LONG STORY SHORT.

 
 

DRAWING WITH FIRE

by Kathy Jennings

Inspired by Randy Walker, Pisces • Leo • Virgo

The mountain streams are packed with snow. The cycle turns. The spring melt begins.

 

Two fish swim in opposing directions, inside, outside, me, you, us.

 

If we have gained awareness and wisdom during winter’s long nights we can journey from one to oneness, vibrating as never before.

 

Water is reality, wet and clear. And yet when we dive underwater nothing is quite real. 

 

We dream and feel the patterns just beyond our reach. Intuition keeps us from staying under too long. 

 

That and the light of this new cycle.   

 

We are here in this body swimming toward the sun.

 

Following Leo’s lead.

 

The sun roars. A call to action. Energy needs to be moved.

 

More than a shaggy mane and a flicking tail, we are illumination, radiating like the sun.

 

How can we embrace the energy of the Spring, rather than scorching the earth with fire?

 

We wear the lion’s fierceness, its courage to be who we are in a world that wants less.

 

We dedicate ourselves to love, bravely choosing to live from the heart.

 

We embody the desire to help the world. It will be directed by the soul.

 

We will not fall for divide-and-conquer tactics.

 

We are here to create. With boldness and generosity.

 

When day equals night and night equals day we call it balance.  A moment of void.

 

The Goddess holding grain prepares us for the journey onward. 

 

She looks into the future and sees potentials. They are not immediately apparent right now.

 

Her magic is understanding what is essential, what is necessary.

 

She transmutes the physical into the spiritual. There will be clouds.

 

We will think too much. We will judge ourselves unworthy. 

 

She shares discernment between what is useful and what will weigh too much in winter.

 

Her seasons underground have taught her answers to the questions.

 

When the days grow short the trees loose their leaves. Is it a loss or a letting go?

 

Learning to let go is an ongoing practice.

 

This is a knowing that it is not named.

Kathy Jennings, "Drawing With Fire” Copyright © 2020 by Kathy Jennings. All rights reserved.

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PISCES • LEO • VIRGO

RANDY WALKER 

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DETAIL

PISCES: EARTH'S NORTHWARD JOURNEY

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DETAIL

LEO: FIRE / SUN

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Click on the image to the left to link to a video of Kathy Jennings reading DRAWING WITH FIRE.

DETAIL

VIRGO: EARTH'S SOUTHERN JOURNEY

© 2020 by ninth wave studio

213 West Walnut Street • Kalamazoo • Michigan • 49007