Matisse: the Parakeet and the Mermaid
In a world in which armies were still encountered,
though now their role was ‘entirely defensive,’
an old man survives the age of alliances.
Younger, he looked out from hotel rooms on
the Mediterranean; rooms, one supposes,
full of windows and flowers, fabric, birds.
There he laid down the law of tables and chairs:
recruiter of womens’ dresses, lord of a
domestic country, minister for indoor affairs.
Outside, the nineteenth century fades away –
‘though enduring: the voluptuous memorials,
polite facades, afternoons inhabited by
touchy fauns, women described beautifully
but only in outline. The balance of power
falls into disrepair – got at by fixers,
finished by war. Struck down, citizen of
his utilitarian wheelchair, these last
images haunt his long hours, thus:
the mermaid, desirable but mythical;
the parakeet, gaudy impossible bird.
The twentieth century well under way,
absolutists submit their reports:
parakeets, wet afternoons at the zoo;
mermaids, a Freudian joke.
David Andrew (@davidandrew100) born in Manchester (UK) in 1939, went to school in Lancaster and Macclesfield – and graduated, in philosophy, in 2001. Poems appeared occasionally in the ’60s, more recently he’s been published in: Magma, PN Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Rialto, The SHop, South & South Bank Poetry. A collection, Through the Looking Glass, was published by Brimstone Press in 2010. David is in charge of Write Out Loud Poetry Directory.