I used to paint you know,
until my hands began to wobble out of use,
I'd paint reality in all its charm and dreariness
and make up poems in my head the while I worked.
The poems were about infinity. Reality
is psychedelic, don't you know. Infinity
is purity of white that fades to white -
or black that merges with the same invariable hue.
You pass reality each day. When on your way to work
or home again, it's there in all its starkest subtlety,
waiting for the likes of you to sketch it up -
or make an image of it best you can.
The trouble is, it's inconsistent. Lets you down.
You pass the same shops, supermarkets, factories.
Day in, day out, it's there and stares you down -
but still it doesn't guarantee to get you where you're going.
Let's say we board a train. We don't know where it's off to.
We'll find out. It moves off on a dead straight track.
It has direction given it - North East - but not a destination.
It may stop in some great cathedral's nave
or in a painting by van Eyck.
It may pull in at a long poem by MacDiarmid
or pull up in a symphony by Grieg. Even, it may stop
inside a line graph drawn to show
how many bloggers saw my blog today
with axes that control its shape and size.
It may not stop at all, but just continue
along its lonely track, keep coming back
to where we boarded it but can't get off
because the place has changed: it's not the one we knew.
And still the train moves on its one straight line -
which will not always be the bearing that was set.
The painting I am working on becomes a poem,
your poem may turn out to be a bagatelle.
Infinity's a line, a track, an arrow through the heart
of what we're pleased to call reality.
Ignoring all the usual niceties
of axes x and y and maybe z,
in cutting through them all it's playing bungy jumps
and free falls from the sky with stuff
like death and afterlife and all that jazz.
I used to find I couldn't paint infinity - and that was why
I stuck to portraits of the real
but now reality seems not to make much sense.
We do the daftest things on its behalf.
Perhaps I'll paint again - my wobbly hands
might well be just the job to represent the infinite
in terms of fractal beauties x y z.
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