Monday, August 07, 2006

Dust skin glove bowl by George Szirtes
(After Helio Oiticica)

You plunge your hands in wearing gloves,
You plunge your skin in the dirt in the bowl,
In earth the colour of mouse or mole
Or the burnt edge of the planet where droves
Of creatures sift through living rust.

And this is the colour, your own dust,
The dust of the self in which you lurk,
To which you and your eyes belong,
Where your parched mouth sings a raw song
Of dunes and gardens, where you work
Your eyes and hands and where all art
Is lexicon or colour chart.

Here dust becomes you. Gloves become your skin.
You wear your body as you might a gown:
Dust skin glove bowl, median brown,

Like washing clothes, like a good scrubbing down
With the colours you live and die in.


George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, most recently 'Reel' (Bloodaxe, 2004) which won the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize in 2005. He has also published a substantial number of works translated from Hungarian, both poetry (Agnes Nemes Nagy, Ottó Orbán, Zsuzsa Rakovszky) and fiction (Sándor Márai, László Krasznahorkai). For more information, please visit his web site.

This is part of a series of poems from invited poets. Previous contributors were Luke Heeley and Joe Ross. Illustration by Jonathan Wonham.


Patry Francis said...

Thanks for this powerful introduction to a poet I hadn't previously read.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! And fanatastic picture too - the two enhance each other.

Lee said...

Reel is wonderful, and Szirtes is fast becoming one of my favourite poets. I'm particularly interested in questions of exile and language loss, i.e. remaking oneself in a new language. Those writers who succeed in doing so are relatively few, but fascinating. (In fact, I'm planning on doing a post on my own blog soon about Appelfeld and Eva Hoffman, but perhaps I'll add Szirtes as well.)