Questions is a collaboration by Lucy Kempton and Joe Hyam. Poems are based on questions drawn from an agreed starting question and formed by answers, which contain and inspire the next questions. In response to Lucy's first question, Joe kicks off. This follows our earlier work in Compasses, archived here, where Lucy's photographs illustrate Joe's series of 50 sonnets under the title Handbook for Explorers.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

What on earth shall I draw to day?

Imagine, when you look, how the eyes
Of Rembrandt and Picasso widen,
Their bleak gaze, hard and black,
Your book open like a laugh,
Pencil sharp as an angel's foot,
Your eyes on the scrounge.
Watch fissures in walls and faces,
Narrow and wry, where lenses
Cannot go, where in the dark in the skull
Or in a spiral shell, particles
Dance at one time in different places,
Or in "the infinite spaces
Between the stars" which terrified
Pascal; or in the spaces
Between the head and heart
Where animals watch for prey ...
A line will do, just a line
To wire the air, connect the thought,
Lead from one thing to another,
Hang an apple on a tree,
Place a loaf on a table.
Answer if you can on the way
The questions that come up:
What is hidden in this jar
Or in that lacquered Chinese box,
Where, hard and dry, curled segments
Of tangerine peel are stored
(To perfume ice cream or soup),
Faded but aromatic still.