By PETER ROBINSON
—for Gianluca and Elisabetta
with dilapidated surfaces
lead us where one factory tower
(now a fashion house foundation)
might have been electroplated,
its golden section gleaming
chic against pellucid sky.
There are cloak- and bathrooms
under windowless wall spaces
repurposed with stiff metal doors:
it’s like a sci-fi prison
where the sparse art connoisseurs
are masked, green passes on display,
as walk-ons in a twilit zone.
We’re among them stalking pictures –
as if life were this row of glimpses.
A green dress has some neckline skin.
Two tops of lovers’ heads
are peeking from a duvet cover.
Her torso shows its armoured bra.
You covet lacework tablecloths …
as if life could be found in glimpses
and those glimpses were enough.
A wristwatch partially emerges
from its wide, white, buttoned shirt-cuff.
But if the works of time are left
to do their damnedest, life’s revealed
as art, art found in flaking, faded,
stucco on blank factory walls.
Still life would reassert its point
of view as looking for a restaurant
directionless that Saturday
beside lines from the Central Station
seeming to split Milan in two,
lucky, you find honest cooking
to celebrate the lost, missed times –
the other lives we couldn’t live
postponed when we weren’t looking.
So even when you’re good and off
driving out down Corso Lodi
where time’s consumed in dust and ashes
whatever those framed items showed me,
glimpses of the city’s outskirts
with hotels, tower blocks, workshops, houses,
they would prove enough.
Note: More than a hundred works by Domenico Gnoli (1933-1970) were on display at the Fondazione Prada, Milan, between 18 October 2021 and 27 February 2022.
PETER ROBINSON’s forthcoming collection, Retrieved Attachments, will be published by Two Rivers Press in February 2023. In 2021, the same firm produced a second edition of his 2010 collaboration with the artist Sally Castle, English Nettles and Other Poems. Further recent publications include his translations from Pietro De Marchi, Reports after the Fire: Selected Poems (2022) and The Personal Art: Essays, Reviews & Memoirs (2021) from Shearsman Books, who also publish Peter Robinson: A Portrait of his Work, a collection of essays and a bibliography edited by Tom Phillips. An archive of his work in The Fortnightly Review is indexed here.