WAAC Member & Artist Elana Wolff shares her poem “The Way She Worked,” written for Barbara Feith and her piece “Magical Carpets,” and the comments from a U.S. poet Michael Gessner.


“Magical Carpets,” by Barbara Feith


The Way She Worked

	for Barbara Feith (1927-2021)

Barbara painted tiny rugs, embellished them with ink—
the kind that comes to life 

with mythical thinking. 
She might have chosen other means 

than fine, exacting strokes
but so loved Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar, the turquoise 

palaces, the waters and the mosques, 
the skies. And that’s the way she worked.   

Look, a decorated horse. The golden-
red chiaroscuro glints—

I’ll ride him saddle seat 
and he won’t throw me. In private 

re-enactment, I’m among the antique flyers. 
From on high, I watch an entourage—

a line of inklings—
wending down a hillside 

to a strand. Everything these pilgrims own 
is added to their backs. It’s hard to understand their will to walk 

and yet it’s not: 
A woman in a glowing robe and diadem is leading.  

Rays are falling on the carpets waiting to be claimed. 
Into art does not mean out of reach.
©2022 Elana Wolff


Comments from Michael Gessner

Elana Wolff’s “The Way She Worked” must be among our most compelling contemporary lyrical elegies. The shift in narrative voice, gives a different (magical)

point of view. The “ink” in “thinking” and “inkling,” all work together, organically displaying a nuanced poetic intelligence. The poem is, (in its circulation,) organic,

and with its colors and sensibilities, one might successfully argue for a stream of synesthesia, especially after the (first person) turn, we are, with the speaker, transformed.

Lines reshape themselves into human figures in flight; colors in “glowing robes;” sounds in shapes reshaping themselves.

This is another highly compressed poem of moderate length, and readers unfamiliar with the subject of the poem, (Barbara Feith (1927-2021,) would benefit from

the originality of her work, Magical Carpets,which has been included along with the text. In addition, with the concluding lines, the poem turns once again,

to include the subject of art itself, and in this way is not only a paean to the artist, but to Art:

“Rays are falling on the carpets

waiting to be claimed.

Into art does not mean out of reach.”

—Michael Gessner, author of Nightshades (BlazeVOX Books, 2022)



To see more information about the poem, please click here.

To see more information on the artist, please click here.