Still Life Suite

By | 1 July 1997

1. Magician

She is marked as magician:
sticks, flame, shadow and rope.
She is restless, there is talk of prostitution
behind the floured hands of the kitchens
the manicured administrations.

There is the tilted town,
lives operating in a
perpetual potato winter
faces still sharp around the kitchen table,
only now with a digital accuracy.

The photocopier, the phone, the chair
just so.

2. Butcher

The butcher is perfect in the window
her head bent to the task
her hands blurred
over solid machines.
Linearity imposed
on squat meats,
baroque with a marbled complexity.

Everyday her immaculate apron
a canvas of hunger.
She has lost a finger
and expects more than this,
as her TV glows
with a tubular procession
explosions, diamonds, and a meaningful glance.
Her head bends to the task
her hands moving in her lap.

3. Wormer

Her hands are the only tool she has,
they are full of the type of debris
embedded in the mangroves:
broken bottle, jagged cans
and condoms.

All around her there are plants
breathing. On a quiet day
she can hear them.
As they cast bars of shadow across
her back she bends,
Mangroves mock her in their successful living:
Reproducing, transpiring, synthesizing
and succulent,
while she is as dry and transparent as
the stocking in her hand.

She is seen on the shores,
estuarine creatures moving about her.
They are strung up in her hut
both talisman and food.
She is tolerated there
for one day
she too shall become prey

4. Gardener

The flowers, the plants
are there as expected
she remembers
in cross section
under the microscope all those years
ago at school.
Their construction
an orchestra of desire
cornets of moist petals
great swabs of pollen.

With her pencils and calipers,
how could she have known
that the house would come,
a deceptively simple family
living on inside.

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