At the Exhibition
in Memory of Sidney Nolan, Patrick White and Brett Whitely


She becomes a child, wandering through
the wilderness of a gallery,
lost ...
finally stumbling upon
her mother,
as Nebuchadnezzar,
Nolanean, naked, nubile

in pale ripolin flesh.
Sitting for hours, she drinks in the myth
translated onto an old bit of board.

With a matriarch's mind,
she dreams the blue sky
through an empty visor.
And without disguise,
there is the shining face of childhood,
at the end of a gun-barrel ...
or is it an oval frame
on a nearly forgotten mantelpiece?
yes, it is ...
and she sees someone else, older now, staring
out of a fading family album,
with crazy blue-green eyes,
looking like she wants to kill someone.
And after that,
an anonymous girl appears, on drugs,
a wild bush-teenager slapping enamel onto some old
of masonite,
her weapon hovering
like a ghost ...

Perhaps she dies,
or falls asleep,
maybe, on a small pale pillow of hope
set against a back-drop of not knowing ...
but there's a burnt sienna head floating,
in pools of jacaranda blue,
visible only to those who read,
across and through
and around ...
in the spaces where
paint merges
with thoughts
and words
and something else ...
but it's there, still
as a Nolan Shakespeare
or some other
of utterly brilliant
that sings, sometimes
after dark.


Beyond language, and this great
expanse of carefully curated space,
is a time when a queen and a favourite
knew how to play cards
at the bottom of a lagoon
decorated with the tempestuous
embroideries of sainted aunts
and other golden headlands ...

But that was years before she fell into the world,
searching beyond the fringèd curtain of her eyes,
yearning for the work of minds, agape and red-hot.

Now, as she walks slowly past each frame,
words are being drawn
onto the passing picture planes ...
Who is spinning
these infinite threads of meaning?


The user-interface filters out
the actual sounds and smells
of the spaces evoked elsewhere
on novel-pages, in poems,
on screens, in magazines,
now torn and glued onto boards,
placed beside blocks of canvas,
mixed with phlegm and paint,
but closing her eyes
she knows them ...

On the screen of her lids,
squarish windows turn blue and red,
as semi-forgotten after-blurs
are funneled along the clumsy
telegraph poles of memory ...

            mosaics shift
from overhead tramwires and sky;
to alchemy and the earth, lush
and rich in blood; moonboys
& tables of luminous yellow;
the stench of cats' piss on lantana;
and there is always the young Rimbaud,
and the absolute certainty of death ...


Throughout her body is the roar and trumpet
of an endless savannah, its entirely
sumptuous notes pressing close to her swollen belly.
And whole acres of time pass by when
every head of wheat blazes with the joy of being
alive in the sun: their plenitude takes up
& swallows all other themes ...

She stares at a small golden child
emerging onto the landscape,
a tiny typed asterisk
set against a burgeoning
sea of yellows.
The paintings now smiling.

She glances down,
at the lines on the floor.
The semi-imagined,
straggling brushstrokes of a broom.
The tiny marks
of feet and trolleys
on the polished tiles. The myriad
chance scratches.

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