Strings 1

‘dreams jangling with lost connections’

March 2024


of a song by Nico
a film by Antonioni
or book from 1968
the half-empty glass
walled City on a Sunday
when the phone rings
in the pre-internet stock-exchange
i.e. the stock-exchange exists
in physical space
along with the woman
who doesn't answer
but wanders
though leafless streets
past shut-up shops
patent windows
reinforced balconies
and musique concrète
i.e. the phone still ringing
but silently
in the dusk
where lovers plan
to meet
but don't
because you are alone
and you are beautiful


Cypress fir-cone fennel fig
seeds lie buried
in the earth pricked

dry with dull pine needles
poppies tin cans rust
the taste of soft

fruit dark and fleshy
leaves olive trees oil
leaking by

the shore where
she lies down
to sleep

dreams badly
then wakes

last June

Lycabettus Hill

The party dogged
by a tourist's greed
clamber higher

than God singular
and cast their eyes
over hard paths

sleeping cats, cacti,
pricks of midday sun
so hot it blurs the sky.

At the peak, a church,
inside, sand, candles
flickering, saints

pale faces, the guide's
English voice urging
'look, another

theatre further
down the Hill.' We pause,
pick out masks, sing

first Antioch then
Olympus, all together
at Lycabettus.


I have known many versions of this man
or soft boi with his soft mouth, soft hands, soft
curls carved from Carrara. Eternally soft.

At first the cracks are barely visible
the still smooth, rippling surface insists
everything is good: soft, firm, colossal.

Look up! The crowd of women raise their heads,
gaze at downturned lips, such sensitive
lines, form, beauty that speaks of liberation.

Before he appeared, there was only
the cold marble, the hammer and chisel,
an uninspiring studio apartment.

Don't look down, or now, or dwell on the slight
stress at his ankle fracturing this dream.
Earth cannot bear the weight. Stone sinks too, but softly.

SUSAN FINLAY is an artist, writer, and publisher. Her latest book, an anti-memoir entitled The Lives of the Artists, is out now with JOAN.