Thursday, 27 September 2012

Profile: Sarianne Durie

Sarianne is an artist who has made stained glass windows almost all her life;  she changed direction five years ago and started writing poetry again, which she had stopped about thirty years before when she was too busy making windows.

The Sphinx

We Sphinxes all creep by the banks of the Nile
you may see us peeping from faience and tile,
while guarding the gates of the most ancient tombs
as tourists wander and the sand turkey booms.

We sometimes turn purple and hide in the sky,
it wouldn’t fool you, but the birds that fly high
right up in the ether to dance in the sun
come floating down to us and sing us their song, then

in red satin cape, with buttons agape,
we dive to the depths of the Nile
and there we do meet with fishes all sweet
and a mermaid or two from Argyll.

All day we sit haughty, with head in the air,
we do nothing naughty, not even our hair;
the tourists stand round us and take photographs –
then all run away when one of us laughs.

One day I was caught and stolen away      
I was wanted in Oxford in these serried ranks
alongside dead sculptures just standing all day –
but I tell you it hasn’t stopped me and my pranks:       

now in the museum when no one is here
and night time is come, I prowl without fear;
I somersault neatly in style down the aisle
hoping I won’t go and land in a pile.

I did that one night and lost part of my nose
and then on another lost some of my toes,
and being more lion and only part girl
my looks touch my pride;  I’m rather a churl.

My great aunt, Jasmina, the Sphinx of Old Thebes
riddled her Four, Two and Three to all passers by;
a Greek heard the answer as he walked by the reeds –
and when Oedipus told her she died with a sigh.

The Djinn of the desert who conjured the Sphinx
got into such trouble when he put on the jinx
and invented ourselves and, grand though we are,
he was caught by Aladdin and put in a jar.

We’re contrary beings, so misunderstood –
we stay holding our breath, only move when we should –
but way beyond time we sing of our plight,
watch us swing through the sky any bright starry night.

Sarianne Durie                                           August 2012

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