Matías Serra Bradford

A Studio in Chiswick

                                                                         I
                                                                There's a curious room
                                                                Lined by sympathetic inks and jars
                                                                Where small volumes are being knitted together.
                                                                Cards dealt on the trestle table
                                                                A yellow to rest on or dress a mood with
                                                                Handed in through the window.
                                                                A very curious process
                                                                Rules what child
                                                                From Easter Island to the Isle of Sark
                                                                Shall get the next little book
                                                                With a tail attached.

                                                                         II
                                                                Hogarth's a neighbour and ravens lecture
                                                                On the after-life
                                                                Four times a day
                                                                Yet leap
                                                                Like schoolgirls during break.
                                                                Expect great things
                                                                From the draughtsman
                                                                Who does not stare
                                                                At his own hands.
                                                                Dog-earing Hiroshige - a fireman's sun -
                                                                A son's light
                                                                Appears composed
                                                                Of a myriad fingerprints and predilections.

                                                                         III
                                                                A pupil looks at the small water
                                                                Colours box
                                                                Like an addict,
                                                                Does not mind
                                                                About the future, always cries
                                                                Present at a moment's notice
                                                                Right there about to leap
                                                                Into the slumber of an afternoon lesson,
                                                                No pentimento in a small hand, lines timed to a second
                                                                Never look back over the shoulder.

                                                                         IV
                                                                Thought it was Kyoto what
                                                                With the streets lined in bloom.
                                                                At the Stationer's
                                                                The owner's granddaughter
                                                                Photocopies her hand
                                                                And shows it to him while spying on
                                                                The dry cakes chosen by visitors.
                                                                Minutes later almost
                                                                The same glimpse
                                                                In the eyes of a stone goddess
                                                                At the entrance to a public building
                                                                Holding a letter
                                                                Somebody left between her frozen hands.

                                                                         V
                                                                An old pencil bitten long
                                                                Ago, while swallowing
                                                                Peanuts as restless as elephants
                                                                Carrying Buddhist
                                                                Molten gold hidden in hidden mouths.
                                                                Wood-pecking pencil
                                                                Working after hours for a friend:
                                                                A turning of lights
                                                                Already on.

                                                                         VI
                                                                Pencil's shavings:
                                                                Pinocchio's shaven chin
                                                                Or an I Ching ideogram:
                                                                If you keep quiet
                                                                You are
                                                                A genius.


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