When I first saw Ansel Elkins and Louise Robinson’s work side by side, I knew I had found something very special. A kinship between artists. A conversation without words. Although I have followed the development of Ansel’s work since we first met in early 2003, the more I sifted through Louise’s haunting images, the more I had an eerie feeling that these two had a long, unknown history.
I am so pleased to present this month’s featured artist’s as a dual entity and hope you’ll take the time explore this special twinship further.
by Ansel Elkins
There is no ancestor so powerful as one’s earlier selves.
Twelve ghosts in the house,
and all of them you.
Caught like birds, in the stations of girlhood.
The first one in the dirt road pitches rocks
with her good strong arm, casting
further down the road and further still.
Another, the quieter sister,
at the kitchen window
watches the one in the drive.
One kneels before the empty hearth
and sings her sister’s name.
Up into the cool mouth of the chimney,
her echo climbs the chimney’s throat, the voice shivers
Each sister wears a different color ribbon
in her hair.
One sweeps all the rooms of the house.
Two stand before the mirror:
One shouts lamb!
The other whispers tiger.
But it’s bad luck for two
or more to look into a mirror at the same time.
The youngest will die.
And what of the one in the basement?
No, we don’t visit her.
Each daughter moves in the mood of a
They carry the tides, the seasons,
the year of you.
Each daughter, each dancer, an apostle
of the message of you.
All of them clapping together
the noon hour of you.
Someone forgot to whisper your death to the bees.
And so all the bees have left.
And the fruit trees have died.
Twelve ghosts, and all of them drink from one well.
Twelve, and each with her own room to haunt.
One opens her mother’s drawer,
runs her fingers through the silk slips,
brings the slips to her cheek.
One plays a nocturne on the piano.
Another skips into the room,
strikes the discordant keys and vanishes.
Twelve white plates laid out at the table for supper.
Twelve ghosts, and all of them you.
One puts her ear to the dead wasp nest
and closes her eyes,
listens to the anguish that kicks
in the heart of the nest.
And the last fancies herself a rider of racehorses,
straddling the propane tank in the yard
and riding, reckless, riding.
Ansel Elkins is an Alabama native who now resides in North Carolina.
She is a recent graduate of the MFA program in creative writing at the
University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Poems appear or are forthcoming in The American Scholar, Boston Review,
Ninth Letter, Mississippi Review, The Believer and The Southern Review .
She is one of four winners of the 2011 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize.
Louise Robinson is an artist and illustrator from the UK who works primarily
with Photoshop. She describes her work as symbols for nature,
or embodiments of attitudes and concerns about the environment.
Occasionally they represent specters, ghosts and immortal souls.
ART AND GHOSTS (WEBSITE).