Art Shrine
by Robbi Nester

In one corner of the living room we’ve made
a kind of family shrine, memorial to my family’s
efforts in the arts of painting, sculpture.
There on the stairs we’ve hung the painting
of my grandfather, Wolf Horvitch,
as a young, if balding man in spectacles,
an early oil by my great-uncle, Isaac Rosenberg.
And there, Wolf’s death mask,
product of no shaping hand but death’s,
its rough brown surface, like a spackled ceiling,
stormy sea, preserving his expression
better than a photograph could do.
Death is my relation too, my link to all who breathe,
an artist of a sort, whose practiced hand
lays bare the scaffolding beneath the skin.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Painting (left) of my grandfather Wolf Horvitch by my great-uncle Isaac Rosenberg and death mask (right), Wolf Horvitch.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This prompt (and others’ responses to it) set me to thinking about what objects I could not do without, and have brought with me over the years from one place to another. I settled on these things. It’s true there is more than one, but together, they make up a constant in my life, an “art shrine” that celebrates my family on my mother’s side.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and a full collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014). She has edited two anthologies, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It (Nine Toes, 2014) and Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees—celebrating the photography of Beth MoonHer poems, reviews, essays, and blog posts have appeared in many journals, anthologies, websites, and weblogs.

Author photo by Charles Hood.