Apropos Palladio



1
Oh flaking Palladian Palladium! Humble terrace porches!
Banks down the high street, civic halls,
Offices and offices and churches and churches,
Where the great god of money calls
And leaves his deposit like a pigeon!
The portico. The estate. The paradisal region
With its parks and villas,
Its silver trails of caterpillars,
Apiaries, orangeries, conservatories,
And, at the end of the drive, the miraculous ha-ha,
Where a greeting party of rural Tories
Welcomes a rare appearance of The Rajah
Of Surrey in his pantaloons;
Window motifs in the shape of half-moons,
Fantastical topiaries with proper manners
Mumbling in Stephen King undertones,
Elegantly flying banners,
White stones. White bones.
2
Someone down the hall is playing Mozart
To the ticking of a metronome. Keys
Dance under delicate pressure.
Music is proportion you can measure
On a string, with a ruler, but better still
In breath. When it deigns to freeze
It may produce architecture,
A single voice, castrato, the trill
Held at the end of the nose, until
It snaps and lodges in the heart.
3
The imagination can conceive of spaces
The body never inhabits. It dreams in harmonies
Beyond gadgets and furniture: the fridge,
The microwave, the broken chair by the wall.
There is room here for incomplete graces,
For sigh and laughter, for the high ledge
Above the yard, for the child's scrawl
Drifting on a sheet of paper, blown away
In a gust that divides and disposes of families,
For the damp patch creeping gradually
Up the stairwell like a ghost, for
The spot that blossoms like a rosebud
(With just the faintest suggestion of dried blood)
Next to the kitchen door.
4
The imagination is a wonderful invention,
And here's a place it can inhabit
Like an absence which too is something,
Like a sleeve that produces no rabbit,
Like a kind of superhuman humming,
Like a line of pollarded trees,
Like the wind trapped in parentheses,
Like the balance between relaxation and tension.

The imagination is a brilliant coup
With its Apollonian obsessions,
Sums within sums, voice within voice,
Hairline fractures and incisions,
Within which the wee-est mouse
Can harbour grudges and fears
And still not think that all might end in tears,
The walls collapsed and a gale scouting through.

The imagination likes its perfect numbers,
Its Fibonacci series,
Its Modulors, Golden Sections, theories
Involving a soaring staircase and rumours
Of God in the details, in iambs and dactyls,
The camera obscura and perspective
Panning down mean streets, with a private detective
Stalking through the alleys where it slumbers.
5
Come to me, whisper the stones. Spread out your hands
And measure me, I will be conformable.
You can wash yourself in my light.
I am clean as the sky after clouds have passed.
I am a model of the universe in which there are
No black holes, no rogue meteors. My sun
Has no storms, my oceans shift to song
That settles in your educated ears
Like the music of the spheres.

My oceans shift to song. Song is what has been
And what continues whatever the price tag,
Whoever the singer. Clarity of form is clarity
In all and every light. Even clouds have clarity
That comprehends. The meteor has clarity.
The black hole in the mind is a hole in clarity.
Seabirds hang on thermals and hear the clarity
Of the storm. See, I can draw a clear line
Around your hand that washes the world clear.
The eye cleansed by the music of the ear.