The Painter’s Family

Ekphrastic Poetry

After de Chirico

Giorgio de Chirico
The Painter’s Family

She is edgy today
her nerves all jangled,
synapses stretched taught as hamstrings.

The baby’s mouth opens again
a grey mollusc, the blue bruise
of colic staining its lips.

The cracks are showing.
She is becoming as crazed as the glaze
on her grandmother’s plates.

She cannot carry on like this.
Her lap is too shallow, her arms
not long enough to hoop up the excess.

For he is busy. He has work to do
renewing the chipped mortar
in a wall of angles and silence.

Mute and deaf they have bound
themselves with winding sheets, filleted
down to white bone old fleshless words.

Now she must stuff the gaps, smooth
the pollyfilla’d crevices in her face.
Vinegar and brown paper will no longer do.

In the orange evening dust
she cannot open her crammed mouth
must drown her thin cries, her dim bleatings.

From Everything Begins with the Skin
Published by Enitharmon 1995


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