10/9/08 image prompt, a poem, and marcia abigail ryder

We’ll call this painting this week’s image prompt. I’m in Agua Prieta, Mexico, on the border with Arizona with a group of UWC-USA students who are doing a week-long Border Issues study. Internet is sketchy so while I have it I’ll say a few things, but first a picture and then a poem. More about Border Issues in another post.


Poem for the Family

What so deeply underlies our baseline conceptions that fathom weights turn in circles and loops, like one who seeks hope in the ocean, swimming in waters far beyond waters we know? What overarches our thinking from such a far distance we can only guess… Maybe…. as above, so below?   What holds us here like the unknown unseeable holds the mosaic total?

Father swings through the trees, he wrestles crocodiles, white men, personal demons. I see a small jewel – green hills and blue ocean – rotating inside the compass of heaven. Fine silver threads in circles and spirals, fractured pinpoints of gold, ruby and emerald hang in a canopy of velvet. The absence of light does not equal darkness, sight shatters on far-away anvils and leaves hammer shards, finally silent.

Through transparent eyelids I watch a sandstorm cover the sun. Twilight rides not on light but whips around from darkness, a rude wind marshaling vast killing wings. Between sight and knowing are clear jelly curtains and outside, the mean blur of teeth. The wind is an iron-framed plow, a rusty, steaming, oil -flecked  stallion with shoes of blue steel, throwing up sand, clacking, spitting and clattering. It is a torn accordion,

wheezing and whistling, entropy compressed and then tortured through ripped leather fittings. The wind hits the dunes with cutting fists of diamond. It is here that my mother nurses her husband. She waits down the wind, the triumph of darkness, the blowing sand peeling skin, carving bones. The wind grinds the rocks down. Mother swings Father onto the wind and leaps on behind him. She seizes a good night not to go

gentle in and leans to the stallion’s ear hissing: is this the worst you can do, evil thing?  A maniac riding a maniac wind, heels hard in his ribcage, fists in his mane, holding a man who is dying. She drives her heels in and spurs the wind on, into the well of souls that they came from. The wind sends it’s unrest, it’s hornets and locusts but nothing remains here to kill or consume except death, and death is dying. Time has unrolled

to its end over nothing and no new myth comes. No milk streams through space from her breasts, no planets or galaxies spring from her forehead or anus and he’s just crazy, with crazy thoughts, like: the son beside the elephant is so small, yet the elephant obeys him. Higher now than she has ever been, she holds her husband through the driest time. The black wings of another wind sweep down around them.

The ground turns upside down and vanishes. The stars take their place in the sand. Silence and stillness replace sound and movement and now the unteaching, in earnest, begins.


I wrote this poem when my father was dying. I am posting it now because it came to mind as I was thinking about the recent passing of my friend, Marcia Ryder.

Marcia Abigail Ryder, 1952 – 2008.

Marcia was a native of Wellfleet Mass, a ninth generation Cap Codder. She was a painter, a ceramic and enamel artist, a sailor, gardener, art teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend. She was married to Roger Cole. She died April 1 of this year.

I never thought I would be writing this. I knew Marcia since high school where she was a year behind me and oh so far ahead. I used to check in with her once or twice a year but have been out of touch for these last years and just now when I was looking on the web to see if I could find a current email address I found instead that she had died. This is so sad. Marcia seemed to be made of light. She was a lifelong beacon and inspiration to me and probably to many others.

In high school we had the same tuned-in art teacher, Marcia Sewall, who inspired us to both to careers in the arts. I bumbled my way into mine. Marcia took a more direct route, maybe knowing from the start that she was born to be an artist and a teacher. She taught art in the Kittery, Maine school system for 28 years. She touched and brightened the lives of I don’t know how many kids and teens and grown-ups. I can’t begin to describe her grace and humor, the beauty she radiated and she found in nature and in the people around her.

This picture prompt does not do her justice but it is one of the ones that stands out for me tonight. I hope your week is a good one. Goodnight, Marcia Ryder.

This entry was posted in art, cape cod, ekphrasis, friendshp, image prompts, kittery maine, love, marcia abigail ryder, painting, picture prompts, poetry, roger cole, storybook collaborative, teaching art, walking on water, wellfleet mass, winchester high school. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to 10/9/08 image prompt, a poem, and marcia abigail ryder

  1. marlowe44 says:

    Your lovely and passionate poem of love and despair brought on a torrent of tears for me this morning. I gently put it into a different form, putting my linebreaks in. You can find it on FFTR. And I added some comments of my own.



  2. johemmant says:

    Wonderful writing…..it’s coming up to my father’s anniversary, which I can scarce believe, so I felt this.

    (hugs). J


  3. beeskiffle says:

    No Rick, your writing is amazing. ((hug))


  4. ybonesy says:

    Beautiful image and what a profound poem, Rick. I’m struck by how you kept in touch with Marcia. Isn’t it amazing how friendships made in those years of our lives—when we were so young and just forming ourselves—can be so profound in our lives? There’s something about people who knew us when we barely knew ourselves.

    The image is just gorgeous. The angels shine, and the clarity seems especially poignant.


  5. debbie szczech zabel says:

    hello rick, i stumbled upon your site as i was looking to see if any trace of Marcia’s blogsite was anywhere to be found. seeing your name was a blast from the past, as Marcia & i were @ monmouth college together, & i remember you visiting her there. She used to speak of you often, and i sensed how much she cared about you. like you, i touched base with Marcia once or twice a year, and thought it odd that i didn’t hear from her the Christmas before her untimely passing. i will always regret deeply the fact that i didn’t follow my gut and call to check on her, and so missed the opportunity to offer her some small comfort and support during her most difficult time. i did attend her beautiful memorial service and was uplifted by the outpouring of love and support in a healing and fitting tribute to our rare and amazing friend. and although
    “those who give of themselves to others live forever in the hearts of those whose lives they’ve touched”, a year has passed, my heart still aches, and i will miss her forever! namaste


  6. rick mobbs says:

    Debbie, I remember that you were Marcia’s friend. Monmouth was a long time ago, but not so long ago that we should be losing each other yet. I’m glad you made it to her memorial service, and that you left your note here. I’ll switch over to email now.


  7. Deb Szczech Zabel says:

    hi Rick, the time leading up to, and now after Marcia’s birthday has me missing her more than ever; and thus back on the www searching for lovely bits and pieces from the people who knew and admired and loved her. She’s such a wonderful force of nature that her beautiful spirit will forever lift me up. Hope you are well. Debbie Z


  8. rick mobbs says:

    Hi Deb,
    I’m thinking about her, too. I have found some high school pictures I thought I would send to Roger. Still haven’t talked or written to him. Will look for his address. Hope you are well.
    In friendship,



  9. Betsy Kidder says:

    Hi Rick
    Some time has passed since we have last been in touch. Tonight I found myself thinking of Marcia. I have received some not so happy news about another childhood & close neighborhood friend that Marcia and I shared- and I guess I am going down memory lane tonight. Marcia and I were very good and close childhood friends- and of course that continued up until High School. I really adored and admired her. I have so many wonderful memories of our growing up. We also lived together for one year on Beacon Hill while she attended BU. It was a fun time- crazy and wonderful. It was because of Marcia that I finally pursued my own passion for art- and moved to NY to attend Pratt. We, however, eventually lost touch- only a bit of correspondence in between- and although I had heard she was sick- I just could not think that she would ever leave us- basically I was in denial- and never saw her again. I miss her too- and shake my head often in disbelief that she has moved on and away from us.
    I do remember your friendship with Marcia, however, until now had forgotten it.
    Thank you for your tribute- What a surprise to be looking up Marcia and come upon your beautiful words and painting. I love how you and I, we continue to find each other- our paths cross. There was another time our paths crossed in Boston and I wonder if you remember. I will share it with you if you wish and do not remember. Since I have thought of it many times since.
    I have also been thinking of Marcia Sewall and would love to be in contact with her. I was for awhile- after High School and then lost touch. Are you in contact with her? Do you know where to find her.
    Merry Christmas Rick and I do hope that this message reaches you….. Peace and Joy to you, and again thank you -Betsy


  10. Brennen Connor says:

    Hey Rick,
    I just found your site while searching for Ms. Ryder on google. Ms. Ryder was my homeroom teacher at Traip for the first two years until she became to ill to continue in school and eventually passed. She was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever come across and was wondering if you knew if her blog was still going? I also read that you hadnt talked to Roger; however I know his address in Kittery where he lived with her if you’d like it. I miss her everyday, and think of Roger and her often when driving by their house. Thanks for writting this, it’s great seeing people are still talking about how wonderful she was.


  11. rick mobbs says:

    Dear Betsy,
    So good to hear from you. Marcia still crosses my mind. I still see her in memories and half-sense a presence, a smile and a strength; something hard to put into words. Something that also makes me realize that my ideas about what life and death are and are not are concepts and understandings that still are and have always been in flux.

    One particular memory of Marcia is from high school or coming back from college and walking to her house to see her. My first glimpse of Marcia as I came through the trees from the road in front of her house was of her back as she crouched in the garden tending her plants. Whatever creation is or is not, life and death are or are not in that moment (and way before I found the poem) she was the angel of Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, God’s Grandeur:

    “…And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights from the black west went,
    Oh, morning at the brown brink eastwards springs—
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast, and with, ah, bright wings. ”

    I suppose then that makes her our very own “Holy Ghost”.

    I see your email address here so I’ll switch to a private channel. By the way, I don’t know what became of Marcia Sewall. It looks like she last published in 2001. Let me know hat you find out please.

    Hi Brennen,

    Thank you for writing. Having Marcia for a homeroom teacher makes you a lucky guy in my book. Glad to hear you were able to appreciate it. I don’t know what became of her blog but would like to hear about it. Also Roger’s address. I meant to be in touch with him after some time passed but did not mean to leave it for so long.

    Best wishes to you in the new year. Please write me at rickmobbs@gmail.com if you would like to correspond. I would be interested to hear what you are up to and the direction your life has taken since high school.

    Best wishes,



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