“The Shadow of Turning” by Hannah Charlton.
DESCRIPTION by Hannah Charlton and Matt Gertken
TITLE — top left corner of page:
The Shadow of Turning
CREDITS — bottom right of cover page:
Words by Hannah Hall
Art by Hannah Charlton
Image description of cover page:
A small, simple outline of a female figure stands in the bottom left corner of the page, the kind of figure that designates male or female on a bathroom door. Her shadow spreads upward from her feet and dominates the center of the page. Her shadow is a large, black, two-winged creature of indeterminable identity. The features of the shadow convolute and are partly obscured by large dark areas on the top left corner and the right side of the page.
PAGE TWO — BLANK
The page is divided into four narrow, horizontal panels.
First panel text:
The Shadow of Turning
First panel image:
The calligraphy of the poem title, The Shadow of Turning, simplifies and enlarges as it moves from left to right, the word “turning” centered in the horizontal panel. It is accompanied by the image of the [Christian] Communion elements of a wafer and wine.
Second panel text:
The sharp sweetness of the bread and the wine
Second panel image:
Trash scatters across the page: crumpled papers, dried pens, coffee cups, a box of crackers and an empty grape juice bottle: the things you might find in a church’s garbage can.
Third panel text:
Throw me back to a time before habit
Third panel image:
The trash comes together and forms an organized but indeterminable shape.
Fourth panel text:
I wonder if this is the true taste of human flesh
Fourth panel image:
A realistic girl’s head, seen only from the nose down, lips partially open, hair falling onto her shoulders, takes Communion.
Two long vertical panels, the left one narrow and the right one broad.
Left panel text:
But it is later, in the heat of the night, that the
inside me awakens
Left panel image:
The trash at the top of the left panel is swallowed by darkness covering the bottom; at that point, the trash disappears in the darkness and we reach the word “deepness.”
Right panel text:
I look for it in vain.
Right panel image:
The darkness reveals behind it a grove of pine trees. Snow covers the ground, but trash is scattered here too: newspapers hang from branches, wrappers lie in the snow, Post-It notes stick to the trees, and papers fly through the air. In the bottom corner, the words hang empty in the air.
Three equally sized horizontal panels.
Top panel text:
She couldn’t have been right, this woman, this world of hollow women,
Top panel image:
We return to the real world. This time we see an empty coffee shop, complete with tables, chairs, a fireplace, posters on the wall, and two large windows with a view of the pine trees just outside.
Middle panel text:
Voices mean nothing, if they cannot fill the cracks in the firmament,
Middle panel image:
On the table are pens, pencils, binders, and feminist textbooks.
Bottom panel text:
These iron souls in their misty cages
Bottom panel image:
The titles of two of the books are Discovering Biblical Equality, written by Fee and Gordon, and Girls are Equal, Too. Under the books, we catch a glimpse of the corner of a piece of paper. It has a tiny doodle of a girl drawn on it.
Page and image description:
This entire page comprises one picture, full of billowing clouds. The doodle of a girl, the simple outline of a girl familiar from page one, is seen in the center of the clouds, this time surrounded by air and windswept forms.
Text, positioned off-center, some lines slightly at an angle:
The wind wove around me, caressing me like her child as I fought on, ignoring the pain.
Page and image description:
The entire page is one picture. The simple outline girl appears again, taken up, this time the female figure is white in complete peaceful blackness. In the top right corner hangs the detailed pattern of a stained glass window that provides the only illumination.
Text, positioned off-center, lines in perfect straight lines:
My time with You is full of questions
and the brief silences which foreshadow my fear
Page and image description:
This entire page also comprises one picture. The simple outline girl is again featured in the middle of the page, this time surrounded by a semi-circular arc of disorganized objects, a bed in the top right corner and paper notes falling down along the right side toward a large writing desk in the bottom right corner. Paper notes, pencils, calendar books and a laptop computer tumble down the left side of the page toward a chair at the bottom. Strewn across the bottom of the page are shoes, a lamp, a teddy bear, a coffee mug — normal bedroom objects falling and floating around the page.
Text set at diagonal angles in top left corner:
And again, even later, the voice that
tells me to
arrange for You–
is that what You want? what I want?
Tiny, evenly-sized square panels cover the page in a carefully drawn grid. Panel by panel, pitchers pour liquid to fill up canning jars, hands screw lids onto the jars, tighten them, and then the jars stand closer together in arrangement. The hands place fruit in a bowl: bananas, apples, an orange. The hands move and arrange the fruit and bowls; a hand pushes a bowl into the center of the panel. The grid runs out of room at the bottom of the page. Panels showing fruit are half-obscured by the boundaries of the page.
Upper text, center of page:
I could, if it was true,
pour my sins into little jars,
close them tight
arrange the fruit in a bowl
on the table
while You sit at the counter
Not bothering to correct me,
But this kitchen
isn’t big enough for the both of us.
Lower text, bottom of page:
I ask you
if it’s true that men are a lie.
The page consists of five evenly-sized and evenly-spaced horizontal panels stacked on top of each other, sparsely illustrated, with a single verse and a drawing of a single piece trash in each panel. The pieces of trash are alone in their white panels: first a candy bar wrapper, then a crumpled tissue, a Ritz cracker with a small bite taken out of it and crumbs, a Nerf gun [toy] bullet, and finally a used Post-it note with the drawing of a simple girl on it. Each piece is under bright light and has a sharp shadow under it.
Text, descending down the page with each panel:
I could try, if You needed me to,
to do it right, to caulk my soul with only You–
but ever beckoning is the question of worth–
is there really nothing new under the sun?
it’s new to me, but
i am young.
The drawing of a girl is pictured against a stark white background. But seen in the light, she also has a shadow, which stretches out into the center of the page to reveal a large ominous shape with two wings and hair.
Text, from top left to bottom right:
They say there is no shadow of turning with
but there is the shadow of my turning to consider
PAGES TWELVE AND THIRTEEN
Two pages are filled as the Shadow, now fully formed, appears as a long shadowy feminine creature with large wings, flies across a dark ocean with the small simple girl in her arms. The Shadow’s dark skirts melt into rainwater that falls into the black ocean, and huge white clouds billow in the background. The Shadow and the girl travel together toward a landscape of gray, naked hills.
Text, page eleven:
Whether it, like the rain, is swallowed up by the ocean
or if it flies away on the wings of an eagle and sheds my spirit
Text, page twelve:
over the farthest reaches of the seas, where men
fear to tread
Images from the last pages appear in small frames, again arranged in a rigid grid, but in a random order. The steps of Communion, jars, clouds, trees, a piece of trash, a lamp, a bed, an apple, are all alternated, mixing together. Some of these pictures show the girl’s mouth taking the wafer, then with closed lips, then drinking the wine, and finally her lips slightly open with teeth peeking through. At the end is the girl, in real flesh again, her nose, pursed lips, hair and shoulders, but her eyes are not showing. She has finished the sacrament, finished following the thoughts and images of the past pages.
Text, one word in each panel:
Last word of the poem, “waiting,” is paired with the image of the girl taking Communion at the bottom of the page.
PAGE FIFTEEN — BLANK
In the center of the page, there is a small picture of a young girl’s head, with a quirky frown, with her hair spiking out almost like fish-fins, and the initials “H.C.” This is the graphic artist Hannah Charlton’s logo.