Sport 17: Spring 1996
Louise's Dad brought round some grapes and a book on African Artists.
He directed me to James Hampton, whose only artwork,
The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nation's Millennium General Assembly,
was discovered after his death.
Quite clearly it was a life's work,
massive and intricate, the gold and silver foil-covered objects
reflecting light in a billion directions.
In his garage he painstakingly assembled cardboard cutouts.
He drew on his collection of jelly glasses, desk blotters and mirror fragments.
Discarded lightbulbs and old furniture made their contribution, and were not missed.
He put quotations about divine grace on the left side,
on the right about Moses and the Old Law.
At the top of the throne a sign so small it is almost invisible reads FEAR NOT.
A following page features a brown photograph,
and though I don't think it was taken during the depression,
James Hampton looks solemn and hungry.
His glasses perch like a close-spying bird.
The police are making desperate advertisements
in the hope you won't become a grim reminder.
In news from the courts a London-based expert
in hair growth gives his measure of poison.
We hear about the sex life of heart attack victims
disturbed by fear of dying in the act.
Evils are quietly planned
The TB virus is airborne,
crossing every barrier with ease.
The odd tree
is losing leaves.
Someone stays home and composes a suicide note—
I'm turning the engine on.
When you have gone I will winnow bus tickets
lay out my ID cards, count some change.
I will sit by a photo of the Matterhorn
and know, at this distance,
the appeal of a buoyant fortress.
For now you are offering me advice
and I am describing television programmes.
I mention the flooding of river valleys
the submerging of towns and telephone poles
the lean streams flattened for power.
Somewhere nearby the air castle is alive
with screams and the slap of legs.
Cautious parents shade their eyes,
distinguishing their own.
It's hard in the broad daylight.
that people with an abnormally large heart
are prone to sudden cardiac arrests.
In the cool night
dogs bark in tune,
cicadas are dead quiet.
A free budgie
unlikely to survive the winter.
I think of drawing curtains
though it will take more than dawn
to wake me up.