Jack’s Ekphrastic

Gregory Loselle


A Moral Distinction for Kindergartener

and Artemisia Gentilleschi’s Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Jack doesn’t understand. He wants to know
how someone good (the lady with her hand
held up to the candle, casting half her face
in shadow—our heroine nonetheless—her sword
clutched in the other) can be good and still
do something bad. The picture looms above
us, twice Jack’s height and framed in gold intarsia
he can’t yet call baroque, with all that comes
to mean. That much can wait. The evidence
is plain: not six feet back, old Holofernes’
mouth agape, his half-lidded eyes cast upward:
a six-year-old can see him dead and staring.

His mother explains, “Sometimes good people
Have to make a difficult decision.” Jack
stares back and thinks it over, asks again,
and gets the same response. The gallery
is still. He slowly nods. Jack understands.



Gregory Loselle has won four Hopwood Awards at The University of Michigan, where he earned an MFA. He has won The Academy of American Poets Prize, the William van Wert Fiction Award from Hidden River Arts, and The Ruby Lloyd Apsey Award for Playwriting. He was the winner of the 2009 Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition, The Robert Frost Award of The Robert Frost Foundation, and the Rita Dove Prize for poetry (where he won both First Prize and an Honorable Mention) at Salem College. He has won multiple awards in the Poetry Society of Michigan’s Annual Awards Competition. His first chapbook, Phantom Limb, was published in 2008, and another, Our Parents Dancing, in 2010, both from Pudding House Press. Two more, The Whole of Him Collected, and About the House, were published by Finishing Line Press in 2012 and 2013 respectively. His short fiction has been featured in the Wordstock and Robert Olen Butler Competition anthologies, as well as in The Saturday Evening Post, and The Metro Times of Detroit, and his poetry has appeared in The Ledge, Oberon, The Comstock Review, Rattle, The Georgetown Review, River Styx, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The Pinch, Alehouse, Poetry Nook, Sow’s Ear, and online in The Ambassador Poetry Project, among others.