elegy (1969)

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dreaming earth
lights of Harehills
another day

autumn
neither presence nor absence
season of standstill and decay
season of longing and remorse

was Christ crucified here
here in this quiet park?
or on the walls of the Uffizi gallery?
or on the steel girders of Howrah bridge?

 cursed with stigmata
wrestling forgiveness and shame
the retired colonel marches all day
in the gardens of the asylum
trying to remember the particular battle
in which he was killed

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all this pen and bistre
wash
white body colour

did Rembrandt ever visit London?
there is some doubt on this point
he drew sketches of the cathedral and the river –
but did he ever go there?

‘this sketch is drawn after my wife,
when she was 21 years old, the third day
after our betrothal,
the 8th June 1633’
the hesitant smile
eyes half-closed
the flowers in her hat
veronica prostrata
unbroken innocence

*****************

all this pen and bistre
wash
white body colour

a mirage of words
veronica prostrata
stigmata
unnailed
unpossessed
undead

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where rests the unborn man
the undying man