Via Cappellari, Rome
There is no front door; the way in is through
a gash in the old man's chest. Behind his ribcage
centuries-old buttons regulate the beating
of his heart. His chambers are bordered
by pleated velvet, the arch of his aorta embellished
with medallions carved in ivory and horn.
His ventricles are red-ruched satin, stitched
by hand, reinforced with the bleached baleens
of whales. You have only to press your ears
to the walls of his chest to overhear murmurs
of treason, bear witness to acts of love
and betrayal in the eighteenth-century court
of Versailles. His floating rib transmits
the sound of insects colliding with candle light,
street lamps and crystal chandeliers. Stand close
to detect the whirr of industry - in his blood vessels
the heat and light of theatre sets
and behind-the-scenes machinery.
He is centuries old. His superior vena cava echoes
with the metal of wartime trenches
empty cartridges, abandoned ammunition belts
and lost belt buckles: there, too, the crack
and split of a sailing ship crushed
in the fist of a storm.
There is no front door;
the way in is through the gash
in the old man's chest. His body
is an apology of dull grey scaffolding
but his heart? His heart remains
a patient, all-weather place.
For more Tuesday Poems, please click on the quill. This week's editor is Alicia Ponder with the poem Shetland Ponies, Haast Beach by fellow TP poet, Tim Jones
Today's Button Shop is a re-post. This poem was originally published in 2007 in my first collection, Open Book - Poetry & Images. In my last post, I mentioned I'd be away from home for a few days - first for an exhibition opening and then for a retreat on magnificent Banks Peninsula. Our small country has been brought to a virtual standstill after days of (for us) heavy snowfalls. Much of both islands is under a blanket of white - very beautiful, if somewhat disruptive! I was lucky enough to make it over the hills and back to Christchurch before the AA closed the roads. And now that I'm here, I'm fortunate to be able to stay with dear friends in their warm home. We are off into the snow now (going to the gallery space ; )). . . I'll post a few pics of the temple and Christchurch's white environs later today. . . Meantime, this is where I/we were this time last year. . .