To wander through this mortuary of art
Underneath a flyover at Clignancourt
Is sad not solemn – unlike Père Lachaise –
For this is where the unmemorable makes its unsung exit.
Bland landscapes on hardboard, lifeless drawings
From life, natures mortes that never grew
Or ever drew a breath. Portraits of abusive uncles
And unfeeling aunts: images nobody wants,
Stacked at your feet. Stepping back on a frame,
The only way you’ll pay for it. Art
That declines eternity; hopeless, transitory, bleak –
Discouraging an Artemisia,
Poking in and out, uncertain of her catalogue.
She reasons, there can be no fear
Worse than that my visions, scenes, designs
May end up here; pushed up against
The next poor daub in a stack. Give or take
A generation, several shifts of taste, the vagary
And sheer caprice of fashion may oblige the work
To undergo a meagre spell in purgatory,
Among old lamps, used pipes and chandeliers,
Before the dealer’s annual clear-out
Shoves it in the winter stove to crinkle
Rather than flare – in the last oblivion of fire.