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The Painter In His Studio

for Pat Mac Allister

In the 70s, a factory for high-class handbags,
its defunct, tottering, redbrick chimney
remains, as if to flag

another kind of industry, the rub
of rough palms, the mind
splashing about in its tub ––

place where the eyes bring
places they’ve trudged
and scrape their boots on everything

in this long room always closing in
with canvases, each one
a door opening on

somewhere up against a wall: a sea
under the horizon’s knife; a display
of warped, illicit cutlery

from Auschwitz; a surge
of locked-out workers, staccato, broken up
by a century-old baton-charge ––

by the knife-scrape, the stark
brush-jab that translates an archived image
into less literal marks;

alive as the dead magpie fixed
upside down on a strand of barbed wire, restless
in a flutter of wind and acrylics

or the quickened, almost-figure that peers
back out of the picture, leaving ––
like someone who was just here ––

the imprint of looking.

Poem by Mark Granier