The Text

Suddenly you are inside the house. Perhaps. Standing in the old entrance. The garden hall or vestibule. Have been here a long time. A staircase might once have met you here. Now turns shyly away. Swirling its skirts from your muddy eyes. It will wait

John Phillips's Gypsy Sisters once hung over this fireplace. (Now the Corot landscape's here.) The Holman Hunt propped on an easel as though there were little room left. Perhaps for Hunt's visit. A magnifying glass swinging on its string. The paintings as they were acquired by Holt. Jumbled on top of one another. A private Summer Exhibition. One shifted a little to the left to fit another in. The nightmare of his handyman

Behind you, straight rain could fall to disperse Florentine swelter. This might be a villa on a Tuscan hill for one moment. Crackling through the horse chestnut leaves. The fullness of their summertime span. Crisp. Liquid electricity. A parody. Of lightning a touched up copy of a convincing storm

Cool Doric columns rise either side of the familiar fireplace. Push at the ceiling. The faint tinkle a chime. Every quarter of every hour is it? A tintinnabulation of the silence out of which a painting may be conjured. Into which it might disappear. Where painting and people co-habit. Eyes drain the canvas. Step forward. One pace //

Far from the Paris Commune. A tornado of poplars. As though time has been ceased. A moment stretched. A loose bowelled cow flaps its flanks for all eternity. A shady operation. Lightning bark drilled into the core of the earth

Or. The peasant is speechless. Fixing you to the carpet. A chiaroscuro whisper. Empty. Its distant charm. Familiar. We pick up each other's senseless sense and fly with it. An awkward hand grasps its labour

Or sublimity's ghost capped with gothic ruin. A rough of a sensibility. Bull's spittle dribbles on the scattered stones. Dry earth. Dust. Sweaty saddles. We're trotting along under supernal threat

Or: this dawn rise elsewhere. A rumour a promise. Unconfirmed broken. A glow of autumn shiver. Beasts dunging the tilled field. Fecund chill. On an unpromising slope. Somewhere a church bell. Or a crow laughing in the light. Of the high trees if that's possible

A knotty narrative of bone and blood