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Woman In A Garden

Jan Horner
From:   Elizabeth Went West. Turnstone, 1998.


          after a painting by Tom Lovatt

So much intense shadow — evidence of light —
a darkness overgrown and severely tended
Her dress in this a brilliant beacon, icy green
the skirt still and sumptuous in its painterly arrest
she stands amid twin urns and pedestals, quiet, funereal
above the hedge a head in stone, putto or dead child
You make a room for her in the museum of the garden
your nostalgia for past beauty, the blues of twilight
your ultraviolet periwinkle in undergrowth and sky,
small disturbances amid restful greens, ominous shadow
Only her delicate nape and auburn hair belie a bloodlessness
her face turned away, unaging
chaste, sorrowing, perhaps embarassed
her thoughts fenced by a dark field
we cannot enter or dare not ask.

Red tulips in the foreground full and open, speaking
not granite but caught as much as stone
as lichens inch and die on the framing pediments
Amid confused perspective, incongruent shadow
the rational has no purchase and
a black keyhole gloom at centre
suggests an opening but we are cheated
the flat, unyielding doorway a falsehood
You are locked, a closed off exhibition, private room
secreted from dogmatists, fathers, bullies, idle inquiries
I cannot ask, dare not enter
You invite us in. You explain nothing.




Jan Horner's works copyright © to the author.


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