It’s as if all the world’s ravelled, bright particulars
have streamed through a pinhole in the side
of a box, down a corridor of Delft tiles
on which tiny figures from childhood hide
from my self-portrait, ghostly in its dun
vestments, and the servant drying linen in the dunes,
making the images blurry, inverted. Details
such as these meant something to people once, they
would have recognised the tulips, citrus, overturned bouquet,
the chalice that struts on damask drapes.
Hands behind my back and from my time I gape
at the mantel, a strand of dropped
cargo, tiny figures bent to their commerce at the tendered quay.
Ships ready their serene freight;
I ponder the hourglass, insects, the gap
that puts beyond reach the risqué
hare proferred to an abandoned lute,
pewter languor of a herring on its plate,
crimson fruit chased in lattice light.
Australian Book Review, 'States of Poetry' website March 2017