Objet d’Art

poem / exhibition text

Commissioned for:

Steven Grainger, ‘Displacement Activities’, Verge Gallery Sydney, 2nd-25th June 2016


Steven Grainger, ‘Displacement Activities’, 2016 (installation view)


Objet d’Art

I come to myself
in a ditch,
glass raining down
through a hole in the lid
of the see-through box
they put me in
years ago.

I’m nearly upended,
angled downwards, my
head at the base
of the tree where
I crashed.

The pallbearers,
skidding down
the embankment
in pursuit of me,
dislodging soil,
as they hurry
to inspect their
damaged goods,
pause in terror
when they hear
me cough.

And here he is –
the underwriter
of all the world,
the corpse-kisser
of the ages.

And he is smiling
as he looks down
at me.

The pallbearers are
not used to
my staring back,
and their eyes
are full of fear.

But he is smiling.

There is a stain
on my shoulder,
a gluey substance,
full of acidic globules,
running down from
the corner of my mouth.

At first
I think my brains
are leaking down
over my shoulder
through a wound
in my head.

The mess
on the cloth
is not blood or gore—

a sticky solution
of fruit,
in stomach acid,
the last remnants
of the apple
I bit into,
all those
years ago.

Next to me,
on the grass,
is a dried up stalk
– another bit of
the apple I ate.

The end of the stalk
glows like a lit-fuse.

I hold my fingers
to that restless jerking
taper of gold,
while the pallbearers’
hands snap
at the edges of
my see-through coffin,
and he helps me out.

I stumble
through the
dusty membrane
(that was never
quite transparent)
and onto the flaking soil,
as bits of broken glass
flutter down
my damp hair.

And he says,
you are with me.

You are so
lucky to be alive
he says
and kisses me frantically,

grinding the bits of
fruit and the
bits of broken glass
into my face
with his kiss.

You are alive, and
you are beautiful
says he.

And I say
am I?

And he says
oh you speak?

And tears come
into his eyes,
and his eyes say,
you belong to me.

But all I can think,
as I wipe the dead fruit
(and his kiss)
from my mouth—is

I used to be
dead and amazing,
I used to be
silent and free.

Now I am awake.

Now I am awake.


Laurence Figgis 2016


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