The seductive loveliness of perspective

Saint Jerome in his Study, Antonella da Massina c. 1475

On any screen my attention drifts 
whether it’s girls online or the official denials
a reporter hunched in a bunker
or reading the accounts, I’m looking 

elsewhere: stars and flags draped down empty skies
the blasted building windowed embers
the 8x10s of Sardinia, how book spines make haiku
 “the drowned cities embrace fierce December”. 

Here’s his desert cave, as sandstone proscenium 
he’s upright in that bent-backed chair and bleak
as a Hopper shopgirl recalling the years of exile,
the poverty and ruin of the world.

And all this bricolage: a teeny stair, a wall unit
the inlaid floor, vaultage and colonnades 
everywhere ellipse and line. Even the crucifix up there
Christ’s arm pulled back ’til the sockets crack. 

Now she shifts her shirt, says I’m here now 
same table lamp, same decor, a glimpse of rushing leaves. 
Beyond there’s an olive grove where two highways meet—
one to the desert, one to the coast 

and at the crossroads a boy singing his new-bought voice
the birds circling round, charmed right out of the sky.


Image: Untitled, by Daniel c/- Flickr. An ekphrastic poem in response to Saint Jerome in his Study by Antonella da Massina c. 1475 (around 50 years after European visual artists ‘invented’ perspective).

A piece I’ve been mucking around with for a while now. Hope you enjoy it.

3 thoughts on “The seductive loveliness of perspective

  1. the two images fade in and out of one another so slippily (no there is no such word but there should be) and just like the quickness of hand deceives the eye, the reader must perforce attend. From the book titled haikus to the Hopper girls, the poem is stacked and packed like the paining of St Jerome’s study. (yes I had to look up bricolage). Brilliant title to boot

    Liked by 2 people

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