( Glimpsed from an anti-war demonstration September 2002 )
I saw your likeness through smoked glass darkly
Glowering at the bright tide of faces
Of us demonstrators, flinching at our
Strident chants for peace and justice. Strangely
The kaleidoscope of banners, placards
Matched the colours of your exotic dress,
But your face paled with each frozen moment
And you exhibited increasing stress
There in your cell of white leather and fur,
You feared intimations of what could be
And as you shrivelled apprehensively,
I also saw your dark skinned driver smile,
As he eased your Rolls against the stubborn
Stream and dreamed a different dream the while.
Back to Klimt in an unusual way. This portrait is in a private collection in the USA. When I set out to write a series of 16 poems inspired by Klimt's portraits of women, I stumbled on this one by chance, marooned in the middle of an anti war demonstration, sitting in the back of a Rolls Royce, wearing a bright floral print dress and obviously very anxious. She didn't get it. We were there because we wanted peace. The chauffeur, on the other hand, was enjoying the experience and made his sympathies very clear to us, whilst his employer cowered in the back seat oblivious to our fraternal exchange of views.