Ekphrasis: The Punishment of Lust

I attended a local writing group for the first time on a week gone. It was interesting. Being pushed to think in different forms is always a challenge.  Character development came first (in conversation with one’s characters, we shall call it, which threw up some interesting flash points for development), followed by a session of ekphrasis – taking an existing piece of art as a starting point for the creative process. Of the many postcards the picture that caught my eye was The Punishment of Lust (sometimes called Luxury) by Giovanni Segantini (1891). On reviewing what I’d written in the session I opted to edit it down to flash fiction, preferably 100 words (it’s 102 so just over). So here goes.

Segantini, Giovanni, 1858-1899; The Punishment of Luxury


We drift above the plains of ice and snow, hair tangling in the cold branches of winter. Never resting, never placing our feet on the earth. We hover in perpetual beauty.

Strip away adornment, our warmth. Humanity. Our robes trail; skin bared to the elements in creamy reproach.

A life of idle luxury was our sin; the reward cold expulsion from flesh made pleasure. Our felonies are many; our punishment tempered by somnambulance. The ice spirals our hair in rusted tails. The cold pulls us ever under.

We are stasis. We are not redemptive.

We are sisters suspended. The punishment of lust.


2 thoughts on “Ekphrasis: The Punishment of Lust

    • I’ll be honest, I was really nervous. I’m not good in large crowds of people. The facilitators were nice though, and as I was standing awkwardly about after signing in a very nice older lady waved me over to sit with her. The good thing was they didn’t push you to read out loud if you were uncomfortable – volunteers only. The exercises were interesting and made me think differently so it was a good experience. It is so local and free that it would be a real shame not to go. But I forgot how terrified I am of crowds. Anxiety really can be a bitch :/

      And thanks for the nice comment – I don’t usually write like that (or indeed short fiction).

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