Peace Shields by Barbara Byers, Poem by Margaret Randall

BODIES / SHIELDS Wings Press, San Antonio, Texas

, by Margaret Randall

We love and nourish one another, live together, and for each of us our art is the focus of the physical space we inhabit: two working studios side by side. So it is only natural that from time to time what one does motivates an ekphrastic response in the other. Like the proverbial chicken and the egg, though, we would be hard put to say who is influence, who responds. Rather, in Bodies/Shields, as in our earlier Beneath a Trespass of Sorrow (both chapbooks beautifully produced by Wings Press), two artists working in different genres give voice to shared concerns: maps of desire, a belief that manifestations of life and its creative forces exude a positive energy, that there are no answers, only questions, and that it’s up to all of us to override hatred and violence with connection and the joy of making something new. The poem’s first stanza reads: "In the gaping socket of her eye / a small black bird fights / with another for a worm. / Both birds are called War." The vividly evocative peace shields are as old as time and as present as Barbara’s eye and hand. My poem speaks just below the surface, accompanying the peace shields on their journey deep into our feeling unconscious and out into a world that needs their explosion of color and glyphic power.