The Flower Portrait

By Peter Halstead

(On a Postcard from England)

What can I say when junk like this
Backspaces over Shakespeare's status
With the kiss of tourist death,
When some dated words erase
The bearer's ex post facto face
With their scribbled backhand breath?
Language bleeds through vision's seeds
And rarely matches such exquisite
Captions as: "Worth a second visit."
Mirrors show a stranger's face
Reflected from their leaden base
The way a postcard bounces off its backs:
Through a hundred years of pictures come
Reflected glimmers of a sun
Made trivial by this poor man's fax,
The inversion of what Shakespeare wrote
In its final form, the note:
The authentic camera click
Brought to justice by a bic
(Triumph of the travelling hack
Whose patron never answers back,
Borne aloft like common seeds
On the backs of widow's weeds,
Overlooked like sudden showers
On the strength of summer flowers).
But front and back are commonplace
Enough expressions of our empty space,
And maybe backs like this are missing links,
Replacing Shakespeare's mirrored Sphinx
With their disappearing tourist's ink.