A time to cast away stones? A time to gather stones together?
Imma- Dorothy Cross “Trove”. March 7th 2015.
Room 2.Ground Floor.
Strange shapes! Rough diamonds from behind.
Looming like figures from the underworld,
From a misty headland did you becalm a brawling kern
Or alarm a banshee? Now objects-d’art to gaze at.
9 Ogham stones. Petrified Icons in from the Wind and rain?
I touch your lichens, dried to a faded blotch.
Each of you, flank whipped by the feather of a chisel,
An alphabet of hits understood by those ruled.
The chief or land or the audience you stood there for
Or where you pointed to, are long gone and you are
Reduced to being silent stand-ups on boxes.
Fixed On wooden scaffolds, mere orange crates,
Each of you tagged with labels, red crayon marks
And chalked Latin numerals by some fastidious curator.
Massive parcels sent up from the country on the train
By a McAllister cousin who lived in Kerry,
Townlands like Gurrane, Ballinrower, Whitefield, and Derryquin.
Stones! With your rough Heft and solidity have you anything
To say to the smooth photographs of Apollo’s sculpture,
Too fragile or too sensitive to travel in person, the notes explain,
To this museum?
And what could you say
To that see- through modernist painted square of White,
Whose only hope is in the title? A Shared silence!
I stand at a loss before your Ogham Presences,
Specially selected or elected from the medieval age?
“Now representing the Early Irish medieval!” Section.
Through the Georgian sashed window
Framed there, noticed, as if for the first time
I see the soaring Wellington monument.
You castaways gathered together in the museum room
Remind me of the constant power of the monumental?
Drawn to the window I discover below on the terrace patio,
What might be your modern cousins? A notice observes:
“8 limestone blocks stand, cut to a specific size 150x50X 50cms
Split into parts and reassembled into original form in 1988”.
Each block, machine drilled with ruled lines of identical holes,
Each line exactly vertical, exactly divided, or exactly horizontal.
Is this some abstract kind of mathematical language?
It is out there you interned Ogham stones would love to mingle
With much to say to your measured polished relations.
You would notice and empathise with the cracks, the strain
Of remaining uptight for thirty years as an artistic statement.
Ogham could sympathise with the Modern’s disciplined rigour
And fondly finger the cobwebs in their lichened sockets.
You could patronise, you having stood around for mere millennia
Marking status, territory. Chatting about life, death and immortality.
Instead you stand here mute in a museum room,
Stone-faced Oracles out of time and place.
Why look to me to toss the first stone? To tell on and on
Upon the narratives of time, art, its context, culture and….!