Where are your eyes?
Nothing has prepared us for this.
What is earth?
There’s a pain that remembers bone and horn.
Is the sky above?
Only figures in a landscape.
How fast is the wind?
Even the broken floats in dreamland’s waters.
Do you remember when?
You will know when you see us.
Will you take us with you?
Born into the boundless plain.
How long have you been here?
Our names were once Surefoot and Swift.
Do you think we will be happy?
Dream horses do not need your eyes.
– after ‘Clay Horses’ by Sidney Nolan
Jill Jones, from Fold Unfold, Vagabond Press, 2005.
I love ekphrastic poetry but I do think it's difficult to always get right, so the poem works on the page without the reader necessarily knowing the artwork it references. To me 'Dream Horses' works without the reader knowing the Sidney Nolan artwork. I love this poem's oblique mysteries. Jones says of her own work:
I’m working somewhere between the lyric and something more broader, more discursive, so I move from either investigations of interiority or sensuality merged with the figurative which may also speak to larger structures. The poems have become a broken song – fragmented, flagrant, floating - perhaps an abstract or ruined lyric, where ‘I’ has shifted from the centre.
Jill Jones currently lives in Adelaide, Australia. Her work has been published in most of the leading literary periodicals in Australia as well as in a number of print and online magazines in New Zealand, Canada, the USA, Britain, the Czech Republic, France and India. She has had six full-length collections published. More information about Jones can be found here and you can follow her blog here.
'Dream Horses is reproduced here with permission from the poet.