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Porch Talk: A Neighbor's Take on In Memoriam Illustrated

Sunny day porch conversations are quintessentially Southern, and an unexpectedly powerful one occurred on my very own front porch the other day.

I was outside spraying a few charcoal drawings from my ongoing In Memoriam Illustrated series when a woman who’d come with a package for my housemate paused to admire them. She shared some powerful responses to a few in particular, and her insights were succinct and poignant: “hovering over a dark world” in Canto XII and “a soul reaching and rising” in Canto XIII.

Canto XII: "Hovering over a dark world"

“Exactly!” I replied, deeply touched to have successfully depicted these sensations in a way that could be seen and shared. An even more powerful moment of connection happened, though, when the woman went on to reveal that she had been through a particularly rough period of loss in recent months, with three deaths of loved ones occurring in the same year. “I’ve been through it,” she said. “But I write poetry, that’s how I make it through.”

In that moment on the porch, we — and Tennyson, who inspired the drawings — were linked by the healing power of artistic expression.

Canto XIII: "A soul reaching and rising"

“They’re beautiful. Keep at it, and sell them someday,” she encouraged me before moving on. Her words alone were reward enough; these conversations are the ones I strive to spark with my work. This brief encounter was a reflection on the connections we all share, not only to loss, but to hope and perseverance in spite of it.

I’m soaking up all the rays of light I can in sunny, spiritual Savannah, and am inspired every day by my surroundings. I feel blessed to have found such a lovely community, and to work on the banks of the Savannah river. Even as I reflect on somber subjects, I have continued to find interpersonal connections buried in this common ground, life has never been sweeter.

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