No 17 - Spring 2008
Portrait of an Art Historian
She clicks. The projector beams
The Cotton Exchange in New Orleans, 1873
across her dining room wall.
She checks her notes, winces at the simile:
Degas pulls our gaze to the gent
keeping book in the back room,
the windows hang like guillotines.
She's revamping an Impressionism lecture
that's older than most of her students.
After thirty years, her projector's a house pet,
squatting at the end of its leash. She clicks,
it draws a blank. A slide is missing. She stares at
The Spot-lit Square of Uneven Wallpaper, 1973.
She remembers choosing the pattern
from a stack of remaindered stock:
her first attempt at DIY. The sheets overlap;
rose stems splint where they ought to meet.
An aesthete would cringe but, as her cow-licked
fringe stands to attest, she is not so afflicted.
Her thumb is attuned to the undergraduate
attention span. She clicks again. It's Manet's
maid at the overstocked bar,
for whom she still gathers sympathy.
Baring her wrists, saddened and bored
despite the spectacle. A gentlemen
addresses her bib of pale skin
for a flute of champagne and a clementine.
She plucks a satsuma from the still-life
on her table, turbans her thumb, removes
the peel slowly: a spiral, an abstract.
She feels nothing. It's dark outside.
The height of Parisian entertainment
is cut from the frame: the trapeze artist's
ankles are all that remain.
She's been to see this painting a dozen
times – more – and watched her students
hustle to get a good look as though fighting
for drinks at the Union Bar. The girl's glazed
expression, kept behind security glass.
The barmaid has no reflection; a ghost
amid the vanity, defined by her work and yet lost
to it. The chandeliers hang like rain clouds.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The