Puzzling Reflections

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside Out



Modern translations of St Paul said 'puzzling reflections'
in describing perception, with a taunting, haunting interplay
of light and shadow, never the same for two minutes together,
which made better sense to him than the King James image

To see 'through glass, darkly' was like tilting with a shroud
You couldn't tell what was on the other side of cloak and gesture,
whose storyline it was, and whose the wider plot, when to engage,
and how to abstract meaning from a colloquy already begun

He liked landscape art that shimmered through a summer haze,
nothing clearly defined, merely suggested, sketched and stippled
Precision was death, the vanity of nailing flesh to a cross,
hoping the spirit would not escape to recite its lore elsewhere

Whereas hyperrealism, all diehard hues, stirred menace by osmosis,
Magritte, Chagall, Picasso, hit the spot, dredging themes and schemes
from where it mattered most. Those artists knew a thing or two
about immanence, hypnagogic dreams and shapeshifting metaphor

Such designs granted form to feeling, which delivered its own relief
without any rationale, the need to decode, or the knife-twisting alarm
at having been jumped from behind into action that didn't fit the fable
Hamlet and Hedda Gabler a Disney parody, the diapason trashed

Putting a foot in the wrong camp was a hazard of moving and breathing
There was seldom signage to say where you were, no cue as to what
came next in the pantomime of human exchange. You had to hang around
until the swirling atmospheres kindled a vision you knew meant business

One dusk, passing the Stage Door, he turned into the Square to confront
a revelation of community. There, in the foyer, under constellations of lamps,
theatre-goers were sipping and laughing and gesticulating behind glass,
no script, no hard and fast plot; the miracle of doors parting on proximity

Next thing he knew was a stifling warmth and billows of babbling energy
He’d thought to be among long-lost friends, in limelight, the jester at the party,
but the baffling palaver made him feel like a spectre, an outsider on the inside,
so that he fled into night’s embrace, all lacerating noise and winking alarms

 

 

 

 

from Mysteries of Light (collection in preparation)