A poem about Ellington Robinson’s Never Forget on Ice

Carla White Freyvogel is a writer and an educator at The Phillips Collection, and she often leads the Spotlight talk for Wednesday’s Guided Meditation.

Ellington Robinson, Never Forget on Ice, 2013, Acrylic, collage, found objects, glue, and wax on framed mirror, 38 in x 53 in x 2 in., Contemporaries Acquisition Fund, 2018

Ellington Robinson describes Never Forget on Ice: “This work is exploring the idea of how economics and culture are used to create political containers that we call states and countries…. So why are geographical divisions necessary? Why Racism, Imperialism, and Classism?”

The participants in our Wednesday meditation contemplated Robinson’s luminous, textural, and stunning work. Yes, we too were inspired to ask these hard political, ecological, historical questions.

The artist, who joined us for the meditation, assured us that he is “still in search of these answers by collage, found objects, and paint.”

Guiding the meditation, Aparna Sadananda framed our experience in terms of the month’s theme: time.  Viewing the artwork’s fractured forms, we considered that the “political containers we call states and countries” are evolving as time passes. Fighting, shifting, and struggling. The pressure gauge perches on the antique frame and measures … what? The expansive gulfs created by “geographic division”? The earth’s fissures as time marches on?

Deterioration of land masses?

The participants spontaneously dropped words and phrases into the Zoom chat. These insights were provocative and compelling. The words seemed to beg for some consolidation.

A collaborative poem is the result. Here we have the fusing of our thoughts and insights, inspired by Never Forget on Ice by DC’s own Ellington Robinson.


A Map of the World

One minute to midnight
Pressure is rising like bubbles
Ruined remains of a civilization
From the sky a topographical map
Antarctica in all its glory, strength, and fragility?

The bottom of the ocean
Depths and shadows
Gears grinding time away
Newspaper’s information drowning
Burnt edges, scraps of ancient paper
Color, ice, rocks, bones, and sculls,
Continents, layers
A topographical map,
Newspaper clips, remnants of life

Decay beautifully arranged
Lines of black,
Structures fallen into themselves
Bones, sculls, memories

A red splotch emerges from the ice
A reminder of human presence
Attempting to hold together
Continents of a new world

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