Three Signatures by Daniel Mulcahy

 

I

Gertrude Degenhardt

 

Beneath a pair of silver plum trees in a burnished field

a man in burnt blue dungarees fills a wooden bench.

One leg splayed under the squat round table top,

the other stood on a stack of papers.

Head half-swallowed by a beard, bushy, red as the foliage,

a brown and low-slung farmer’s cap blots out his eyes.

 

In quiet study en plein air, he wants for nothing.

Books and sheet music spread before him – straining,

you can just make out a work by Heinrich Mann,

the score to a German folk song.

Untouched for some time, the  bottle of red

with its glass half-filled.

Butts long cold lie nested in the ashtray

below the hand which holds the latest.

 

All about is lined and scratched except the soft-brushed autumn leaves.

Every surface amber-stained: the very air looks singed.

Her signature levitates, a thread of hair, charred and thin as exhalation.

 

II

Dara Griffin

 

out of utter black

an owl emerges

filling the frame

 

built of soft chalk

shades of faded orange

and absence

 

gaps speckle forehead

a dappled throat ruff

gown of front-furled wings

 

eyebrows cleft from socket to skull

 

grey strands wizen each feather

beak a silver thorn above

a feather moustache

 

the tilt of swollen lemon eyes

with solid pupils

guarded and glinting

 

the signature

wedged in a corner

a talon or branch

 

III

Wendy Debrock-Jeffries

 

To the camera’s eye, grass blurs to a backdrop –

the focal point: a bloated orange spider.

 

This close, it is alien. It might appear an acorn

or spiny sea urchin if not picked out

so crisply by the clinical lens:

legs almost transparent, banded in beige,

spineshod and bristling with fine white hair;

carapace contoured in brown and yellow

that paints a staircase up its underside;

an abstract pattern puts me in mind of

some faceless Willem Janssen angel

or the forest spirits in Mononoke.

 

‘Sky Road’ hangs pencilled in the space between frame and photo.

The spider sits patiently, indifferent to metaphor.

 

In the far corner, unobtrusive,

a fresh fly.