Ekphrasis: The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa

Hosuki The Wave
Hokusai's The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa


Through the lens of imminent disaster Fuji--the looming backdrop of ten thousand sepia prints--is an insignificant bystander. The mountainous water towers over the iconic peak and the doomed boat. The sailor's backs are turned to the crest of threatening fingers, their hands clasped in muscular prayer to the task of rowing. They did not choose the sea. It is the world they were granted by their ancestors, rain on their fields and fish in the sea. The sky is a mirror of the sea, sometimes placid and other times fierce with wind, and where else shall they live except between the sky and the sea, those promising and pitiless fields of blue? They know the tales of typhoon and tsunami, whole villages swallowed by the sea, coasts given over to ghosts. Still, they rise up with the sun and go down to their own boats. When confronted with the Great Wave, there is nothing to do but row.

Another prose piece from Toulouse Street--Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans. If you browse there and search the wave you can see how it has evolved over three different postings. As a resident of New Orleans on the Hurricane Coast, I am constantly drawn back to this picture, and this ekphrasis upon it. If I can get it just right, I may submit this to the Mississippi Riview Ekphrasis issue. Look for revisions as I make them in the comments section, which is how I plan to use this journal in the future: both to publish works close to a finshed form, and to capture the late revisions.

2 comments:

Zouxzoux said...

the sea givith and taketh away. am currently reading "Bayou Farewell" - such a vitally important and sad work of art.

Mark Folse said...

Crap. Work life insanity led me to miss the deadline for Mississippi Review. Ah, well.