B Flats in the Belfry

architecture art belfry bell
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

B Flats in the Belfry

Let’s start the day this way

Eggs, fresh from our bantam backyard coop
One lone feather clings
Sticking still to the pale pink shell
Damp and new
Poached on toast, wheat
Seven on the toaster setting
Vinegar water smells of childhood
Methods of perfection, left and right
Sunny side up for you
Yoke the color of the tangelo lodge in the stocking toe
With peppermints, all those Christmases ago
Napkin in lap, just so

Rhythms of death due us part
Me, part you
We two
Still two (repeat the note for emphasis, an echo of our love)

Ask Alexa to play Diana Krall
Loud-soft, the way I like it, bluesy
Better yet, unplug the wires
The ones that entangle

Cut it off, cut the chords
Let the chorus enter in from out of doors
Through a window, cracked
And open

Tell me your secrets
I’ll tell you mine
And lay my cards flat out on the table
(Strike a note of honesty)
Beside your yokey fork tines

Cracks let in early light
Morning breaks through the edge of night
Can you hear the sound of nothing tip toe in?
Bow your head, now let’s begin

I watch you break your perfect yolks
So carefully, so carefully
Music from the belfry
Soundtrack to a simple life
Love was patient, love was kind


B Flats in the Belfry originally appeared as part of a  recent collaboration with artist Laurie Brownell McIntosh.  As artists, we combined poetry and visual art in an exhibition at Kershaw County Fine Arts Center entitled “Environmental Abstractions.”

Follow Laurie’s art on Instagram @northlightstudio803

Follow my words on Instagram @elizabethwynnemarshall and Twitter @ewynnemarshall










In Mother’s Shoes: Walking Out Grief

paving stones with moss
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

In Mother’s Shoes: Walking Out Grief


A mountain of grief
And a pile of shoes
Met me on the heels of momma’s death
Daddy went first
We went together
Grief shared, grief diminished

Big shoes
Nine or nine and a half
Ferragamo and Stuart Weitzman
Dignity sat at the end of those never-ending limbs
Boney feet, legs
Forgot how to walk
Toward the end
But taught me how to walk
To love
Legs, regal
Queenish and royal
Like veins
Tributaries, threads of her hands
Blood routes

We sat side by side on Sundays
Hushed on plush red velvet
Quiet as a church mouse, all but my tummy rumbling for lunch at the country club after church
Sweet smells of Methodism and old burnt-red hymnals linger still

I followed the sermon like a ten year old,
catching words and riding the tide of theology
I knew God was in that sanctuary (ten year old faith is strong like that)
The veins of her hands
Like a road map to life
I fingered her gold charms, reading each like a chapter book on a bracelet
Touching the pages
There, on her wrist, like a blind child reads braille
Dreaming of life and lunch

Now I walk out the loss, sift through memory,
find a way to remember

Slip into the slipper-style blue suede driving shoe
This is not a dress rehearsal, not dress-up
Though I am still a child, hers
Left, right
Both shoes
Misfit but sacred


In Mother’s Shoes: Walking Out Grief  first appeared at The Kershaw County Fine Arts Center as part of a collaboration between myself and Laurie Brownell McIntosh. The exhibition included  collaborative painting and poetry from both artists.

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art one

We wove around the Old Ragsdale Building

Among and in

And like ants on the way to the fried chicken from The Pig at a picnic

We were searching for

Around a million different ways to see a world.

Hanging displayed sitting displayed  whispering shouting

Every piece at a different pitch

Perfect for its medium.

But I was there for Agnes . And I was there for Agnes’ child.

A life can take up a whole back wall of a tobacco building in its telling,

And still leave out whole parts. How many panels does it take to capture fully

Close to ninety years.

Like a camera, painter artist daughter friend

Makes permanent a life.

Elegance and wit wind around the strokes  color, pigmentation teaches in tones of peach.

Stand back and breathe in, a girl becomes a wise matriarch

Just paces down the old brick sits

An anteater eating of all things a colony of gigantic ants beside voter registration.

This is Artfields and this is what they do, documentarians of our lives,

One studied nine breasts,  documenting differences.

But I was there for Agnes and  “All The In  Between.”

To  see a hundred ways to see a world,


But driving all this way to know the love of one,

Daughter for her dying mom.

Agnes would laugh at her juxtaposition of a life,

So close to

Well an anteater. And I know because I know

The Artist.

And the ways she sees all the in between,

The panels of a life.


To discover more of my friend and her work, visit lauriemcintoshstudio dot com. And pick up her book Agnes’ life “All The In Between – My Story of Agnes” (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and at MuddyFordPress.com )

Not As They Appear, These Things, At All


Feet in the sand blue sky canopy we step into the day. She painter, artist, friend. I write.
We walk into the day. She paints. I weave words, slice them up and move them all around.
There is an unfurling that begins, feet hit the ground, sun up, eyes up. It is what it is.
Or it is what you see, you see. Or how.

You should paint that.. I say, she sees. We see together, we see  different.
And I tell her what it is that I am seeing in the rags flapping in the wind. Barnacle laiden flying into the blue.

I tell her of my love for what looks like burlap, though it is not. When we look closer, the burlap was a mesh. It was not as it appeared.

We see different.

And isn’t that the way of the artist. Her art hangs on gallery wall, exhibited and displayed in place of prominence, by selection. Money changes hands between artist and art lover.

Her beautiful eye and her beautiful hand and her beautiful palette of paints will see the world in one beautiful way. The way of artist Laurie.

So she will not paint the flapping brown rags released on  line to dry out in the sun, bake out the pluff mud this tool of Lowcountry oyster catcher man.

No she will not paint it, not at all. She will not, can not paint it, paint them, filthy rags.

She will not paint the worn bags on a canvas, capture the bits of white stuck in the mesh like diamonds adorning the fabric of royal silk. Value and beauty in the rubble hanging and dancing in the salty Lowcountry wind, this day.

They whisper to me, come write my story.


Of where I have been drenched in the sea in worn hands of man. Of where I have been dragged across the jagged shore and held the shells which hold the pearl. Holding on and holding dinner.

Out to sea and back again. Out and back, dragged and drug and hung again. To flap and sail swinging in the wind. Tool of man, art to one.


And feet back in  the sand, dog in hand, under the oaks we walk and talk. Hit the road.  And stop to stare at peacock, hen. As she stands statuesque. I know this bird. But if we had not met I would have thought her dead, not alive. Her stillness, still as stone, her glassy stare belied a bird alive.

Things different. Things changed. Things not quite as they appear after all.

And painter friend she sees what I do not. This walk of artists in the sand. Brings eyes. They collide seeing different. Seeing same.

The Lowcountry  littered with joggling boards. Rite of passage for every child along the way. In the south, for children’s play.

And lady peacock, hen has her own. A perch which I could not see. My eyes beheld the beauty  only of the bird.  At first.

But two together, they double the image, compound beauty.

Bird on a beam. Bird on a board. Bird suspended mid-air. We stare.

So painter, writer see the world through different eyes. But the beauty is compounded when combined.

So husband, father,  wife and mother,  Christian One and Christian Two. We all do. Our views collide and complement. Artist, painter, artist, writer.

He brings his eyes and I bring mine. She sees the bird up on the board. At first I see the peacock hen and then the board. She is my improved vision. She corrects the lens on life. He is my improved vision. He corrects my lens on life. The complement, the shift in view. Four eyes, two hearts can see together what alone we cannot.

Four friends in search of oysters for our meal and we prefer the singles. Stop by the market ,ask around. Ask some more. The singles are the best and more expensive than the others. The clusters are  less desirable in the oyster world.

We buy the clusters or it is no oysters at all. Grab the knives, hold them hot. Fresh from the steamer, grab the hot sauce, lemon and the saltine cracker, eat them up. Can’t get enough. Oysters, hot, delicious clusters. We convert. We elevate these mangled masses of jagged shell to a status new for lover of this delightful delicacy.

And in the world of seafood too. Things are not as they appear. There is delicious delight en masse in groups. These clusters delight the souls of man under the crescent moon. Split open each with a frenzied pace. And let them slide down the throat into the belly.

If you love oysters.

You would love the clusters. The singles no where to be found, the hot commodity. In demand.

We huddle up and split open each, one by one, the oysters held in groups of white grey calloused shell.

The gift is in the blended views. We are lost. We are found. We are both.

We are better with each other. Artist, writer, painter, friend, husband, wife, Christian One and Christian Two. Poetry and prose.

I need you. You help me see. I am found. I am lost. I am both.



Joining Laura and Ann today.

And counting gifts with Ann

*New ways of seeing life

*Old friends

*Days on the coast, rediscovering old favorites

*Consoling a child in her grief and finding beauty in the loss of life. Somewhere.

*Hearing a friend’s words at just the right time.

*Watching the dog herd her free range chickens. And delighting in the dance and art there

*Walking in the sun

*Walking under the moon

*New mercies

*New vision
new fave for art quote