extract from the poem Koi by John Burnside All afternoon we've wandered from the pool to alpine beds and roses ...
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Saturday, 9 March 2013
two record-breaking abstracts.
Two cyclists -- I forget their names --
had ridden through a stormy night,
the last leg of a twenty four hour run
which broke the tandem record for that time.
Next day at school we heard how Mr Jones,
art master extraordinary,
had also braved the storm all night,
one of the hundred helpers, feeders, marshalls,
to see his two friends through.
He told the tale enthrallingly:
no details missed, no dramatic moments
overlooked -- but then the task we dreaded:
to paint the scene as we imagined it.
My friend and I, easel facing easel
across the classroom floor
(no chance to see each other's work),
produced two look-alike results.
Both backgrounds wholly indigo to black
relieved by one small, yellow disc.
Asked to comment, our comments were alike:
His headlight, sir, is all that's to be seen.
Next day the paintings hung along the wall,
beneath them the results: how they had done.
Mine was the best. My friend's was next.
How was that possible? They were alike --
and others in the group were worthier.
We'd just been out to have a laugh.
(You can't make art from bicycles, we thought!)
Had Mr Jones with subtle point got some-
thing over us? The other pupils seemed
amused, not irritated by the marks.
From that time on, my friend and I
were known as having certain gifts
of telepathic origin.