Two figures, adrift

On alien waters

Direct us to the world of myth

Whereas one

Is merely tragic.


On a yellow river

They’re innocent,

Aura still intact,

The historical moment not compromised

Yet. The scene owes its horror

To restraint, a neutral palette

Famously enhancing the distance between medium and subject

But even that’s suspect-

Their heads are propped up

By carnation red pillows,

I’ve been hamstrung by the books

Again. My mind doubles back-

Perspective is a love song to ourselves

After all, and the frame of reference

Widens as I recall Christina Stead

Once stood here too-

Tyrannised by distance,

Her face looked like theirs

In the canvas mirror.

She came here often (in woollen stockings,

I imagine), hoping to escape

The acrid air and glowing sky

Of bushfire season, yearning

For more civilized disaster.

Exiles attract,

But she wanted more

Than culture as exhibit, fixating

On the echoes of their dazed

And dreadful faces. Trapped

In a sandstone replica, they’re victims

Of a two-fold alienation.


The image can’t be isolated from the reflection.


Two brothers, both alike


Leaves them prone

To misinterpretation. The one on the right

Has seen the vagueness of faded things,

The one on the left

If he could speak might say:

‘All art is a double act

How long have you got?’



My doppelganger

Lies in state

At the Musee des Beaux Arts,

Receiving Dali and de Beavoir,

While I’m visited only

By sunburnt voyeurs. My anguish

Is their anaesthesia,

My suffering

An open house-

They file in

Like curious and territorial neighbours,

Not to buy but just to see

What theirs is worth.