Clare Hornsby

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On looking at Gainsborough’s Mr and Mrs Andrews

The silence of the English spreading summer
Pools the grass and shadow
Close behind them with thin cloud wrap
Within which her dress, a formed frame
Conceals her narrow body
The eloquent hands mark her place
On its satin lap.

Mr Andrews has possessed this all.
His gun rests, work done, full filled.
Knowing each inch of the land he won with her
Yet not the discover of her
How she would feel, under the dress.
He relaxes, seeing no contradiction.

Yet in the space between them hovers
More than dust drift or buzzing insect
Mix of light, shade and scent of quiet.
There is a question:
Can there be complicity
Framed by a firm tall arch of tree?
The distance drawn between them
Is full of what might bind them.
The trace of her gestures stroke his face
Her hands now tied in stillness from him.

Who knows, but that
A short while ago
Behind the tree
Her face pressed against the bark
Her slight body pushed
In embrace across the oak
Arms wide as her dress fans open
He did hold her up against her faint of passion
With hands that mould and form?

And in the long moment since
Such abandon
To complete the picture
The unuttered, unutterable kiss
Brings the sky falling around, the pierced sky
Gently falls into place
And surrounds their silent bodies.


6th - 7th May 2011