Thursday, 5 June 2008

Portrait of Anna Akhmatova after Natay Altman

(second draft)

She is folded into the paint,
Concertinaed across the canvas,
Dividing the solid hardwood floor
From the artist’s fancy – a garden
Of crystalline excrescences
Reaching to the light like blooms of broken glass.

The poet sits in a chair,
A golden shawl gathered about her,
Twirled around her arms and languidly dripping
From the edge of the cushioned seat like honey.
Fingers as light and delicate as swallow bones
Lie in her lap interrupting the flow of her Prussian blue
Dress that loosely sinks from her shoulders
And sweeps round her buttock, thigh,
Cascades over her sluicing knees and falls away
Mid-calf above sooty nylons and patent shoes,
Perched on the step like ravens.

Her gaze falls beyond the frame,
As though she were considering the interval
Between paintings
With just the tug of a smile.

Her clavicle
Slices through the desolation
Of her glacial chest, pointing to
A perfect sphere -
Not a shoulder -
But a moon
Sealing the night,
Around which we all revolve.

© GB 2008

Sunday, 1 June 2008


I heard them last night.

Drunk on lukewarm darkness
And the perfume of jasmine
They crashed through the garden,
Tumbling through the gap in the fence
(That you said you would mend)
And fell upon the irises
Tearing their leaves into strips.
They rolled, shrieking, through the campanulas
Reducing their white linen cloches to a muddy pulp
And snapped almost every raspberry cane.
They dug up the cherry tree,
Trampled all over the strawberry plants
Tore the fibre optic filaments from the bottlebrush
And fouled the petunias.

I chased them.

They scattered before the torchlight,
Sparks of ferrous oxide that disappeared
Between the cars with a sensuous slink.

© GB 2008