Illumination of “9 Wonders Of The World.”

I’m attaching the poem because my illumination is MIA (which means as soon as I post this, I will, of course, find it).


I. Twenty-three years ago a cosmic collision
gave birth to a child of the stars and
somehow after siren songs we discovered
the wonder of your body next to mine.

II. We undress
as your lips play snakes and ladders
down my chest, and this is a miracle.
I breathe summer into you,
and this is a miracle.
You stay despite the fog,
and this is a miracle.
You leave and I wait, and I wait,
and THAT is a fucking miracle.

III. You come home to me for fifty-five days.
Every time you open the door
my heart goes

Doo da-do,
Do do-do da-do,
Do do-do da-do-do!

IV. When I had you I had the sunlight on my fingertips.

We drew portraits in the sky
and spat in the face of anyone
who told us we couldn’t be gods.

V. You pull the moon and I feel it sink
its teeth until my body cracks.

I am a firecracker banging against the cage of your ribs.
You fill me with such light they see
the sunset bleeding out of me.

VI. I put daydreams in your eyes and
in turn you show me seawater and nebulae.

Your skin, it tastes like the edge of a galaxy.
The earth, it spins for you, my love.

VII. My mind is springtime for all seasons;
your room, a bed of roses blue.
We time-travel and three months seem like a year.
We were on the precipice of something great.

VIII. You cascade down my back like waterfalls.
You look at me and I am all
shivers, and want, and yes, yes, yes.

IX. You leave. There is no darkness.

There is music and I am dancing
to the ring of your laughter in
another lifetime. Can you hear it yet?

(Dance with me and feel the sand beneath our feet)

I am okay.

Sade Andria Zabala | 9 Wonders Of The World

I selected this poem for illumination because, one, Zabala is an incredible poet and a lot of her work resonates deeply in my heart and, two, there were a lot of very vivid images in this poem which I had hoped would give me some leverage in picking a few in my process of illumination. What I ended up doing was picking up on the image of the snake because I feel like this poem twists and turns, and not only does it mention the snake but I feel like having a snake wrapped around the border gave a visual for how this poem feels. In that same feeling, and the last lines referencing sand, I debated about using waves of water along the bottom but felt like that would be too much with the blue watercolor sky cascading down from the top right corner. So I found a bunch of silver/coal/gray colors and made a mountain landscape across the bottom with a small moon poking from behind the top peak where the sky could melt from dark blue up into the light blue sky at the top. Then I drew a simple border around 3/4 of the walls of the poem and divided that up into small geometric shapes so I could tessellate the border into earth tones (blues, greens, etc.).

I feel like going with nature themed pictures gave the title more weight with the poem while also trying to stay loyal to Zabala’s references to concepts like “waterfalls”, “blue roses”, and “firecrackers”. She gives the poem such strong visuals that I didn’t want to overshadow the poem by adding more, over the top, images around the words. This entire experience gave me such an appreciation for anyone who has ever drawn anything because wow it is hard to make what you see in your head appear accurately on paper. But I can’t imagine having to have done this without erasers or with an insane pressure of a time/money crunch. I also was able to choose to either incorporate or ignore my partner’s ideas for how to improve upon my illuminations, where as people who did illuminations for a living were not able to just ignore the people paying them. This entire activity really gave me a deeper appreciation for the patience early illuminators must have had for this job.


2 thoughts on “Illumination of “9 Wonders Of The World.”

  1. With the way this poem is set up, with the numbering of small individual events, I like the way that you selected just one of the scenes to do your illustration on. I can’t really imagine this entire poem being illustrated in one image, and so focusing in on just one of the small parts of it is something I liked.

  2. This is an interesting choice of a poem, particularly because it invokes earlier poetry that tried to represent “wonders of the world,” such as Mandeville’s Travels, a “historical” account of one John Mandeville who describes his travels around the world (much in the manner of Marco Polo). I would very much like to see your illumination, so please post it when you can!

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