Eyes. One of
mine will go eventually –
the sight, or the way of seeing? Theory
as an app. Trite as macula breaking down,
a burnt spot – arc welder – on the retina.
So, I go to the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork
with Tracy to see The Cooper Penrose
Collection again. Two years have elapsed.
I go to see a bird held by the neck – already
dead – to be examined by the protégé,
the heir of Penrose, with his dog alert
and hoping, the boneless patriarch
relaxed between gun and his lady.
The daughter is caught by the bird’s
gaze as well. In a different way? But
I don’t like descriptions of what’s happening
in paintings. I write of paintings but not of what’s
happening – because I don’t know, because
my eyes are all wrong, and one doesn’t
really work properly. Properly Propriety.
I identify with the bird. Of course. But
I twisted off at an angle to stand dumbfounded
before Stella – portrait said to be of “Stella”,
“lover of Jonathan Swift”, he who likely
had no lover, and hated her less than
the rest of humanity so in turn loved her.
That kind of lover. Never alone with the wit,
Mrs Rebecca Dingley, her friend always
a third party to their conversations? Stella
and Swift and “Stella”. But not Vanessa.
Never. Her look? Smug satisfaction,
only talking with gentlemen, never women?
It’s not that. It’s nothing I can describe.
But maybe the parrot; yet to me
that’s no exotica. Not even on estates
in Ireland, not even in a garden of Dublin.
Cotton trade. Plantations. There’s just
no getting away from it, is there?
Tim and Tracy finished reading
Jane Eyre aloud yesterday and we
watched the most recent film. Bertha.
Not far away. Wide Sargasso Sea
and the booze that sank me for fifteen
years? Me Us You in every painting,
film, book. So Swift hating all humans
still loved Stella and couldn’t face her dying.
Gulliver’s Travels a place in which love can’t
prosper, those islands just off Ceduna,
right near where we stay at Shelly Beach
Caravan Park every time we cross Australia.
I saw Stella there once, keeping a low
profile, talking with women around
a table-tennis table. So I hear we’re
going to lose words to a popster?
That Jonathan Swift’s Stella could
never now joke that it’s “Swiftmas”
without being sued. And she such
a deadly wit. She had a circle.
Mrs. Dingley scoffs at the idea
Swift and she ever married.
And that’s the parrot speaking.