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The fellow traveller

A dutiful dilettante at the Museum of Art
I count the dewdrops on Van Huysem’s flowers
(the pimples on the curator’s face)
and praise a thistle painted by Snyders:
‘Sublime! An ass drools before it.’
I walk through the glass doors,
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green Thought in a green Shade.

Here at the Fountain’s sliding foot
I’m beside my self, absorbed by water.
Nature-lovers feed the ducks. Narcissistic
art-lovers see their reflections
disturbed by concentric circles.
A child’s model gondola rounds the fountain,
its clockwork oarsman stroking
for the far side of the pond. Imagine
going over seas, negotiating the Suez….

I travel through Cairo to the Hotel du Nil.
The guests are Daumier cartoons.
Austrian American French remember
spurring horses along the shores of Abukir:
Swiss English Italian recall
waterwheels circumnavigated by camels,
irrigated fields blacker than the block
capitals across the Great Pyramid:
                                                    A jackal howls –
a ponderous dog hungry for ducks.
Weed leashes him in the shallows;
he wrestles with tendrils, washing
hybrids brighter than Van Huysem’s flowers.

March 1984, Clifton Terrace, Wellington.
Annihilating… Andrew Marvell, The Garden, 47–49.


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