'Black Dress' by Paul Hetherington | States of Poetry ACT - Series One

for TAW
(from 'Paintings')

This black dress
is also a painting –
it hangs on a wall
where light holds it close.
It's a doorway to places
no-one quite knows;
that bloom and rain
with extravagant vistas.

We've sometimes entered
into the painting
dipping dark hats,
watching children
riding down lanes
(their slit-eyed scrutiny
prickling our backs),
finding a house
made out of art –
colourful images; chaotic signs –
and in a long room
have seen a black dress.

Approaching the work
we've watched ourselves there,
climbing through streetscapes,
avoiding riders
and ducking rain,
entering a house
made out of painting,
finding a room
with a black dress inside.

Now standing here,
outside of the image,
the dress seems mute.
hung on its wall;
yet inside the painting,
through folds like a curtain,
we glimpse narrow laneways.
The sound of rain
is prickling our backs.


Paul Hetherington