I walk to the building. I enter. I pass Dimitri leaving, who frowns at me half-seen,
and step onto light, sown into dusk across the dark room, and rounded jabber
clattering from the silk walls. To the desk, enveloped by mannequins; but no badge
this time, just a wave to the cloakroom and I’m back to the beginning to start with
Dimitri, who is galleried next to Lawrence, hard in the studio light with every pore and
pock frozen to a pond. I turn and Lawrence is standing by me, and we talk thus of
dreams. Then she arrives, chair of regions, and is polite and says we’ve met, but
I miss her name; and we talk on. My words wander, her eyes leave; she
manoeuvres from me, a shoulder turned.
These icons are flattered in their church, each saint pierced by shadow light,
etched monochrome over life’s lifeless prose.
Look. All are all talking.
I meet Penny, the tone of her face so different from her in mounted drama, but she
doesn’t remember me, so I place myself and stand intelligent before the winds
of conversion, with Andrew, who runs the school at Chelsea, partner to Karen:
she, too, who is shot and hung. I work around John because he would make me feel
small, talking whilst he looks at himself, his face worn cloth as he stares at the lens
through dense, grey hair. And suddenly I am stabbed by these cocktail
conversations, a stick for each name, poking deep in my pocket, and run
anonymous to the coats. As I go, I see her whose name I missed, sitting with a man
and his son, so I plant my card, smile and leave, and the next day call Lawrence,
who tells me it is Clara, and I am ashamed because she was on the invitation, bright
and powerful, and I email her with a link to my webpage, where I am bleached in
sunlight, my screwed eyes watering,
James, for that is who I am.