Saturday, April 10, 2010

Off the Cuff Day 6: The Cloud

I had such a brief look at Robert Lee Brewer's instructions, I thought at first he was asking us to write about any painting. Dismay! I'm not somewhere where there is art. However, when I sat down in the kitchen at work, I faced a painting I've always loved.

The cloud

It's a shame about the bright fluorescent light rectangles
reflected in its glass and the clear images of blue water containers
(for emergencies such as earthquake, bushfire) on a shelf above
the staff's food cupboards, reflections foregrounded by lack of focus.
No matter where I stand, there's the reflection of a door
a doorway, two fridges, chipped cream walls, myself.

Behind those distracting elements, a moment in time -
one eternal moment in Australian time - draws me to change
focus. I've been here before: trotting head-down with the kelpies
behind a mob of unshorn bums, and bleats, perhaps swishing
a stick (dropped by one of these shaggy tired gums)
through the calf-high yellow grass, awake enough to step

around horse manure and fresh sheep pebbles, rabbit holes
and other fallen slim branches. I've been here before, but
not as the rider of a plump palomino, leading a second
of the same, into the crowded trees where a ghostly drift
white dust soft as silken powder always stops my eye and thought.
Annie, dead from cancer these two years, donated this, her father's

masterpiece, to an unworthy wall in a workplace kitchen.
I think of that dust as her shadow, her legacy, a spirit arising
from the sharp hooves of sheep and pursuit by a man, perhaps
her father, driving the sheep, the kelpies and himself towards her
bringing the second horse (though her death was a total
expression of her nursing skills) to bring her back.



  1. This is wonderful — but now I want to know more about the story of Annie (how was her death an expression of her nursing skills?). Maybe that's the next poem?

  2. Actually, when I was typing this up, I had exactly that same thought. Could be another poem, soon.