An Exercise in Windows

Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels

—Richard Wilbur

Prompt Against Anxiety #2 | from Woodland Pattern Art Director & co-founder of Split Fountain Press Marla Sanvick.


In his poem “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World,” Richard Wilbur writes of being startled awake by the sound and vision of someone pulling a clothesline full of laundry past his window. Bedsheets and smocks and blouses swell with air and in a half-dream the scene fills his mind with angels. Of course, no angels are truly there. The experience is gorgeously and completely human.

When reading this poem, it’s easy to be stricken by how one must simply go with Wilbur to his window. We bear witness to the beauty of laundry billowing on a line and can feel a more poignant connection to the moment when human consciousness slides from dreaming sleep to fully awake. We can also observe how imagination conjures the world around us into highly personal stories that can be easily shared.

Another way to bring someone to your window, to your particular and singular view, is through drawing. The routine of isolation can be numbing, so take this moment to tune in to your awareness of the windows in your home. Go to one that pulls you in. There is a reason—but what?

Step 1: Consider Your Window

Take a seat at your chosen window with a square piece of paper or a digital artboard in hand. Draw what you see. Include the window frame and provide the whole scene. Take time; it, too, fills the window as it fills your mind. It’s not angels you see—what is it? Is anything blocking the view? What can you still see through this obstruction? Is your view a brick wall, or siding? A tree, or a window into someone else’s home? Consider the time of day, the season, the features that most call to you in the present moment. 


Step 2: Our Windows Become A Quilt

As surely as this virus reveals our interdependency as a species, our individual experiences of it will continue to differ radically. Acknowledging that difference, that experiential frame, is a step toward our collective survival. What can a pandemic teach us about windows? That our lives depend on seeking truth and sharing information—i.e., listening to one another, practicing the art of nonviolent communication, and taking the time and patience to consider more deeply what each one of us sees.

In the absence of each other’s in-person company, we can still invite each other into one another’s homes, still share our views. No two of them will be identical, though each of us partook in the same exercise. Meditate on this; it is remarkable. And it mirrors our experience of this pandemic. 

So, in the spirit of our coming together while apart, and in celebrating a future when we can commune again in person, we would like to take this exercise a step further. We invite you to share with us photographs of your drawings either via email below or to social media, tagging @woodlandpattern and #promptsagainstanxiety, or by mailing your original to Woodland Pattern. 

The only constraint we ask you to follow is dimensional—please send us a square. (If taking a photograph, please also make sure it's sufficiently lit.) All drawings we receive will be exhibited online, where we will turn them into a virtual quilt. Upon reopening, we hope to then unveil the real thing—with each drawing screen-printed onto its own square of fabric. Please note that there is currently no deadline to submit your drawings. We'll continue to gather and display them throughout our closure. We hope to hear from you soon.

Community Responses

More from this series

Write in NaturePrompt #39—Oogie Push

Real FoodPrompt #38—Joan Kane

You Don't Need Proust to Smell GoodPrompt #37—Elizabeth Hoover

Find Your Own FormPrompt #36—Sawako Nakayasu


Preparation for the PromptPrompt #32—Lisa Fishman

Collage Your Own Writing PromptPrompt #31—Helen Hofling

Prepared StatementPrompt #30—Mike Hauser

Repeat Repeat WritePrompt #29— Lewis Freedman

Poetic CorrespondencePrompt #28—Eric Baus

EKPHRASIS YOURSELFPrompt #27—Jennifer Nelson

POETRY IS FOR THE PEOPLEPrompt #26—Angela Trudell Vasquez

MAIL ARTPrompt #25—Siwar Masannat

VISUAL POSTCARDSPrompt #24—Portia Cobb

A [LONGER-TERM] DEEP LISTENING PROMPTPrompt #23—Jibade-Khalil Huffman

Humor as Medicine for the SoulPrompt #22—Mauricio Kilwein Guevara

Personification: A Social Justice PromptPrompt #21—Derrick Harriell

Ponge ExercisePrompt #20—Tyrone Williams

Occult DocupoesisPrompt #19—Kimberly Alidio

Junk Drawer SongPrompt #18—Hoa Nguyen

TALK TO THE POETSPrompt #17—Stacy Szymaszek

Make-Do Origin Stories & Concrete FuturesPrompt #16—Ching-In Chen

The Family PhotographPrompt #15—Rosa Alcalá

Note(s) to SelfPrompt #13—Stacy Blint

Embracing ConfusionPrompt #12—Bryon Cherry

Writing/Playing the ArchivePrompt #11—Jay Besemer

CAPTURED & FREEDPrompt #10—Dasha Kelly Hamilton

Poetic Exit StrategiesPrompt #9—Ana Božičević

Proyecto ConbífPrompt #8—Erick "CK" Ledesma

TRILOGYPrompt #6—CA Conrad

Utopian CompromisePrompt #7—Paul Druecke

A Series of RoomsPrompt #5—Laura Solomon

Two Variations on N+7Prompt #4—Jenny Gropp

T H E A P A R T / TOGETHERPOEMPrompt #3—Margaret Rozga

An Exercise in WindowsPrompt #2—Marla Sanvick

Erasuring AnxietyPrompt #1—Peter Burzynski

We acknowledge that in Milwaukee we live and work on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk, and Menominee homelands along the southwest shores of Michigami, part of North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida, and Mohican nations remain present. 

We further acknowledge the grave evil colonialism introduced to these lands ​through genocide as well as slavery, and also via racist and xenophobic ​beliefs, laws​, and practices that continue to inflict harm upon Black, brown, and Indigenous lives. We honor those who have lived—and do live, now—at these intersections of identity and experience, and are committed to the active dismantling of white supremacy.

Read our statement on racial justice

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Milwaukee, WI 53212
Phone: 414 263 5001

Hours: Tues–Sun | 12-7 pm

Closed Mon

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