By | 1 March 2017

for Philip Salom

He is lying sprawled within one of the spaces
          between the spaces,
dreaming of a perfect seven-eyed pavilion
          in burnt sienna, at rest
behind bars under a gun-grey broth drinking
          the Rome air naked.

In his dream he computes a pert little flowerpot
          in the one unblinded window
at his back, and he conjures an enchanted cable
          slung across the chasm
from his terrazzo to those blushing geraniums,
          which he will pluck
and offer to her, the lovely principessa of the Dish,
          imprisoned for epochs
behind a bravado of bricked-up oval apertures
          and cruelly lorded over
by this lurid deconstructed meccano mushroom,
          terrible, toxic and grotesque.

But how will he then clear the second precipice
          (given a safe return to balcony)
to broach her? Another tightrope? In his reverie
          he scans the skyline’s horizon –
perhaps that corner ledge like a leftover stub
          is a clue, a sign, a foothold;
yet even if he managed to overleap that limbo
          and grasp the cornerstone
and writhe up onto the deck – will she still
          want him? And what if
he slipped, plummeting headlong into the waiting
          unknown abysses below?

Or – what if he’s captured by the gloating molester
          and strapped for all time
to that rusty scaffold, or nestled and riveted,
          a modern Prometheus,
into its curvature, to rotate like a rock staring forever
          into naked dreamless space?

In response to Rooftops by Jeffrey Smart, 71.6 cm x 100.4 cm,
Joseph Brown Collection, National Gallery of Victoria.

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