curated harvest of art science māyā
 
 

My heart, still full of her -  Polixeni (1960–2018)

Three Poems by Robert Nelson

 

 

Polixeni Papapetrou (1960–2018)

Giving birth to myself,  2018

photographic silkscreen on metallic foil and linen

100 X 100 cm

courtesy Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, and Jarvis Dooney Galerie, Berlin

Giving birth to myself

To remember your birth without falsehood or doubt
as the time when you fearlessly pushed yourself out
is a game and a metaphor, awesomely true,
as your life is a project to squeeze yourself through,
to rehearse the delivery, strain and come forth,
and continue the same kind of struggle thenceforth
in perpetual parthenogenic affliction
to pass and escape the oppressive constriction
and never arrive at a rest or to know
a duration in which you were never to grow.
You’re the figurehead leading the boat with your brow
in supporting the bowsprit and charging the prow
for a great oceanic departure, to split,
to divide the tempestuous channel and pit
and emerge for eternal and stretched reproduction
by spasm and labour of painful induction.
The awe of maternal relations is here
in your urgency, passion, anxiety, fear,
your protracted contortion and gasping for air
in a novel traumatic encounter with glare,
with the fierceness of life that emerges from gloom
while eternally seeking return to the womb,
to engender the next parturition or not
as the circle of all who were born and begot.

My heart, still full of her -  Polixeni (1960–2018)

Three Poems by Robert Nelson

Robert teaches at Monash University and is art critic for The Age. He was Polixeni's husband till her death in April.

 

 Polixeni Papapetrou (1960–2018)   I am a camera ,  2018  photographic silkscreen on metallic foil and linen  100 X 100 cm  courtesy Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, and Jarvis Dooney Galerie, Berlin

Polixeni Papapetrou (1960–2018)

I am a camera,  2018

photographic silkscreen on metallic foil and linen

100 X 100 cm

courtesy Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, and Jarvis Dooney Galerie, Berlin

 

I am a camera

At the nib of my cottage, I stand by the lane.
I’ve erected a camera to serve as my brain;
it replaces my face and deletes my expression.
I’ve morphed into being my private obsession,
where camera and I have an intimate bond
to whose privacy both of us closely abscond.
To the prospect of seeing the world through a lens
I’ve included the film as my closest of friends
and whatever the sights that the camera might see
it’s a faithful and accurate portrait of me.
But in staging this union that doesn’t exist
I observe a two-faced disingenuous twist.
There’s another device at the point where you stand.
It’s a camera that waits for my touch and command:
It’s a camera that’s you, representing a scene
where I stand behind objects that then intervene;
so the camera that pictures me isn’t the one
that would be my persona and myth that I’ve spun.
It’s a happy theatrical whimful conceit
where the camera’s a clown and a fraud and a cheat,
where the genius of pictures is all about acting,
performance, the ploy and the lure of attracting,
the planning, the plot and the end that’s unknown,
where whatever our guises, we stand there alone.

My heart, still full of her -  Polixeni (1960–2018)

Three Poems by Robert Nelson

Robert teaches at Monash University and is art critic for The Age. He was Polixeni's husband till her death in April.

Polixeni Papapetrou (1960–2018)

Curtain, 2018

photographic silkscreen on metallic foil and linen

100 X 100 cm

courtesy Michael Reid Gallery, Sydney, and Jarvis Dooney Galerie, Berlin

 

Curtain

There’s a curtain behind me whose thinness and lace
are a symbol that toys with the depth of my face.
I am backlit and almost a dark silhouette
that is balanced by light in a perfect vignette
but my presence that stares at you doubles your frame
through a parley of veils in a whimsical game.
In the curtains that blinker and open my mind
there are handsome unconscious enigmas to find.
I am holding a doll.  As I fondle the strands
like the hair, it collapses and flops in my hands.
Unsupported, the head would roll over and loll
in the spiritless substance of being a doll,
a pathetic and derelict harbinger, pleasing
but only for morbid recalcitrant teasing,
as if the desire to be girlish and mild
makes a stubborn resolve for remaining a child
and perversely renouncing the adult potential
to clinch reproductively all that’s essential.
Fertility’s curtain derides the conception
and mocks the predestined with taunting deception.
The doll is a keepsake of infancy’s dream
that seduces the grand biological theme:
It’s a monster, a bogey, a fool and a troll
as the prospect of motherhood slinks to a doll,
where I clutch at the token predicting my fate
for supporting a shroud of mortality’s weight.

My heart, still full of her -  Polixeni (1960–2018)

Three Poems by Robert Nelson

Robert teaches at Monash University and is art critic for The Age. He was Polixeni's husband till her death in April.