Pen and Ink

Once we had an assignment in our poetry class to analyze a piece of art and write a poem that featured different perspectives regarding the piece. This could vary from the point of view of the work itself, the creator, the museum curator, etc. I decided to analyze “Scribe Medicine Trail” first from the perspective of a museum curator trying to analyze the piece and then from the perspective of the creator of the piece.  

Right and Left

Look right to 
left, I say. Notice how 
the obsidian oil 
saturates the panels, hugging every 
groove and niche as it 
slithers across like a serpent. You can read 
the panel as well as I ---“Scribe Medicine  
Trail,” it whispers --- but 
how do I explain the message I  
didn’t imagine I’d have to tell? 
An absurd game of  
telephone, the meaning slipping away 
over time. I know it as intimately 
as its God, but I’m the misguided

prophet, blindly spreading a message I 
don’t understand. 
Look left to  
right, I say. Beyond that,  
I lose the words. 
I’m a God at a loss, looking at his own design, 
despite having the pattern stained into my skull. 
Do I want you to see the serpent as it stretches  
towards escape, the cells and scales as intricate as 
lace? Or did I design a trail that has been 
trampled on, while others overlap, overgrown 
over time? Is there a hidden story that slithers  
across the panel, a beginning and  
end, as you look left to