Ekphrasis – Unfold

Joy-Hester-Girl with dog

Joy Hester, Girl with Dog, 1957.


There’s neither girl nor dog
just a desert of colours
cut by lines like erosion channels.
There’s no room beyond, no table,
Jamaica Farewell on the radio, you humming along (or holding your head).
The girl’s wrap isn’t the weave of cicadas
beating in the eucalypts behind the house.
No warm dog stink; if her hand’s like the dog’s paws it’s entirely accidental;
and everything is bound by the paper’s four sides…

…time stands in the room but for their breathing.

The dry grasses move in the early wind, the cooking fire and the men quiet, smoking. The sun won’t reach the ridge for another hour but we’ll be gone by then.

Image: Joy Hester, Girl with Dog, 1957, c/- Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award 2018 (closing soon). Joy Hester (21 August 1920 – 4 December 1960) was an Australian artist who made a major contribution to the development of modernism in Australia. Ekphrasis is a poem written in response to a piece of art. And here’s Harry Belafonte with Jamaica Farewell, top of the pops when Joy painted the Girl with a Dog.

5 thoughts on “Ekphrasis – Unfold

  1. For me, the overlay of scenes is brilliant. And as usual with your work it got me thinking. In logic, A is not (not A) and that’s about it. But you demonstrate above that (not A) introduces the idea of A in the mind, a ghost of A. I suppose it’s obvious, but I normally miss the obvious. 🙂


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