Art History

Patricia Beer

I am the man in the pink hat
Who catches everybody’s eye
And is not really there.

In the preparatory version
My hat was dowdy,
I was older.
Now I am ‘Who is that good-looking man?’
My brim is wide and bumptious.

I am immune, though hemmed in
By people working miracles,
Waving their arms about
In paeans of caring.

I am better dressed
Than goody-two-sleeves, Francis Xavier.
My robe is off-white silk
And pours down me like warm rain.
His is black and catches on his bones.

I hate do-gooders.
I believe the Good Samaritan
Sprang from behind a sharp rock
And mugged the man who famously went down
From Jerusalem to Jericho.
At the right moment he returned
With oil and wine and succour
And lives for ever.

Francis Xavier is bound to get to heaven
And he will no doubt pray for me
If I and my pink dynasty of hats
Are spared like late roses.
I have no heart for others,
He has none for himself.

Look, the dead rise up as white as candles,
With flame-coloured hair.
There is no room nor breath for them,
The air is stuffed with angels.
I am not giving up my place,
I have none,
Though I am central to this resurrection.