He's gone. She can't believe it, can't go on.
She's going to give up painting. So she paints
Her final canvas, total-turn-off
Black. One long
Obsidian goodbye.
A charcoal-burner's Smirnoff,
The mirror of Loch Ness
Reflecting the monster back to its own eye.

But something's wrong. Those mad
Black-body particles don't sing
Her story of despair, the steel and
Garnet spindle
Of the storm.
This black has everything its own sweet way.
Where's the I'd-like-to-kill-
You conflict? Try once more, but this time add

A curve to all that straight. And opposition -
White. She paints black first. A grindstone belly
Hammering a smaller shape
Beneath a snake
Of in-betweening light.
"I feel like this. I hope that you do, too.
Black crater. Screw you. Kiss."
And sees a voodoo flicker, where two worlds nearly touch

And miss. That flash, where white
Lets black get close, that dagger of not-quite contact,
Catspaw panic, quiver on the wheat
Field before thunder -
There. That's it.
That's her own self, in paint,
Splitting what she was from what she is.
As if everything that separates, unites.

from Voodoo Shop (Chatto, 2002), copyright © Ruth Padel 2002, used by permission of the author and the publisher


Ruth Padel

Ruth Padel Reading from her Poems

1Writing to Onegin



4Mary's Elephant, Elizabeth's Spinet

5Icicles Round A Tree in Dumfriesshire

6The Pazyrak Nomad

7Shaping Up

8Pharaoh's Cup

9Indian Princess Picks Lover Out From Gods

10Pilot Light

11The Soho Leopard

12The Stone That Flows

13The Appointment

14The Red-Gold Border