ONE POEM — Toby Jackson

Juan Gris, Glass and Checkerboard, c. 1917
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

Two steps down to the rehearsal room

But Krakow, why am I in Krakow looking for size eight shoes
following a strolling man with a hand-shaped dent in his hat?

Cold air blows the bones of the street, the smell of boiled potatoes
falls from the eaves, I am held by a note from a violin.

Two steps down into the rehearsal room, two men in painted masks
glide across the stage

a woman winds the handle of a machine on wheels, cogs, spline
and hub turn phases of the moon. Could I be asked to take her place?

Pushed under a cone of yellow light, a cabinet opens to applause.
Inside is the house where I was born, the stairs, landing
my parent’s bedroom door, the Edwardian wardrobe without a key.

Plainsong offstage.

In shadow Tadeusz Kantor adjusts a leather pouch, knots a brace
of leather straps to a polished wooden hand.

Deeper onstage, a cage of curiosities descends, caught up
with mannequins, a brass compass, a long twist of scarlet ribbon
a dark incline of thunder – the echo lasts for years and years.

Toby Jackson’s professional life is mainly in the visual arts working in galleries of modern and contemporary art curating programmes and writing mainly on museology. He has written poems most of his adult life and has been published in numerous magazines including Other Poetry, Allegro, Magma, The Lake, Fire and Borderlines.

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