Issue 7

Jeffrey Wainwright
Selections from The Reasoner


after Luca Fontana

I’ve remarked elsewhere on that razor-slash -
bold, vicious, into no more than canvas
but modelling for sure a greater anger
against all that presents, against all surfaces, all faces,
What is behind it? Black black black.

So it is a surprise to meet again
these punctures into the void
and see them now delicately cut,
even affectionately it seems,
small upturned isosceles, and so connected
they seem like lines of bunting,
no red white and blue, nor red white and green,
only grey, chalky white, the smears
of an accidental world and – how can it be? –
the little black flags,
nothing in themselves, but with a slight curl inwards,
are not so much baleful as jaunty.


I am I think indifferent to titles
but to be the Professor of Perspective,
how cool that would be!
The said Professor is said to have expired
crawling from his death-bed across the floor
towards the light as it split his shutter.
From the bed he would be in the middle ground,
the sun of course the vanishing point. Or could
the tumult of his sheets just be suggested
and he in the near foreground be reaching
towards where we spectators stand,
the light falling flat upon his face.
Given strength the Professor could have shuttled
among all such views as these, indeed chosen
every minute of the cardinal in turn to make a human view.
‘The Sun is God’ he cried, but only the sun
sees the death-bed and the cry and everything
in heaven and earth in one single plane.


In none of the senses can this be art:
the Highway-Surveyor’s Department
has been along and spray-painted the roadway
with signs to mean things like ‘dig here … amend…
pipe …’ and through rain and shine
the codes lie weathering into the many greys
and granulations of asphalt. The road waits.

Until the painter happens by with his Polaroid.
He looks down. A car passes over. He blinks.
He blinks. A van. A bicycle. (For variation.)
He blinks again. They make no difference.
Home with his snaps he takes up his brush
and enters the marks, goes into them,
what other way is there to put it?
He enters the marks.
There is something else in there,
the road-code is a gift,
but there is something else in there
and only his brush can find it out.


After James Gleeson

‘The Arrival of Irreplaceable Gifts’ is,
before it is anything else,
itself a wondrous gift.

Thank you too for your ‘Sewing Circle’.
My notes wonder if these women are witches or Bretons,
and whether their dress-trains are trugs or cribs.
There is a child with tiny specs, I spot him.

But what have I missed?
My notes are not your picture.
Is Leonardo that man being sewn into a tapestry?
Near the seashore did I see shells
or peacock feathers, or shells
on peacock feathers?

Through such frail canals does one mind seek another.
The effort is just the first thing I thank you for.


And then you saw Italy!

Three cypresses and an umbrella pine;
the piazza a seashore where the boy David reclines flat,
his head thrown back in a rock-pool;
and the Madonna, in a private moment,
her blue gown thrown across her hips,
tends to her hair, and a henna-ed girl,
wound in pearls and jewelled flowers,
floats on the waves from Africa.

And Man, who up in those flame-struck forests north
could not be the measure of Nature
but only part of its tumultuousness,
could be this boy in blue-jeans,
shirtless, jacket open,
who has just crossed the unseen sound
and now, breaking the perspective,
berths his boat beside the colonnade.

You give me faith, my friend, you give me faith.