Ekphrastic Writing at UNCG

The Weather spoon Art Museum at UNCG was giving a night of something I thought I’d never find: a workshop that combined writing and art. Valerie Neiman hosted the event with Terry Dowell, offered me and the other participants chance to have my work published on their gallery blog. Everyone that showed up were told to seek out a piece of work in the gallery that caught their creative eye and begin writing. As usual, the scenic works always stopped me in my tracks. So here’s my story based on the work below.

Chicago (1912) by B. J. O. Nordfeldt
 (from the Weatherspoon Art Museum)
     “Momma!” Cynthia tugged at her mother’s jacket. “The bank’s on fire again.” Cynthia’s mother looked up to find a sky billowing in smoky cumuli. Sighing, her eyes dropped back to her child.
“It’s nothing, now come on, we’re late.” Cynthia kept her eyes on the greying sky as her mother dragged her into the sea of oblivious pedestrians. There were cracks within the smoke from which the sky peeked through. The fiery red glow began to swallow whatever blue was left in the atmosphere. Below it all, men, women and children continued past one another, only keeping clear of the occasional traffic cop. From a distance, the whirring whines of fire engines battered their way through the streets. Crowds made a path as if an invisible force pushed them by. 
Just above from the second floor window,  Cynthia pressed her face against the glass as far as she could for a good look. She could almost feel the heat from outside. She giggled at the ant-sized figures, scattering from the roaring red beasts below. If only she had her watering can from home, she thought, would the ants below drown like the ones in Momma’s garden? 
“Cynthia!”, a voice called from the clothing counters. Cynthia turned toward the direction of the voice, the flickering flames from outside remained imprinted in her eyes. The blue shapes of the store counters  and shoppers slowly reformed in her light-weary corneas.  
“Try this on please.” Cynthia’s mother called from outside a dressing room door. Next to her, another woman in a stiff white waist-shirt and indigo skirt. In that lady’s hands was a baby blue dress.
“Yes, Momma” Cynthia slumped from the window, bidding farewell to her urban ants for now.  With every back glimpse, the window shrank with distance.  The fire’s glow continued to light up the sky, penetrating the windows, finally warming the cooled department floor. As Cynthia stepped out of the dressing room, she looked up to find the sales woman’s waistcoat flickering with rhododendrons. Cynthia approached her mother at the counter, taking one last look at her new baby blue dress now flickered with lilacs. 
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