Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Mansion: An Anti-Poem

by Tania van Schalkwyk

The mansion is white.

It has no clutter, but under-floor heating
and a wraparound view of the city.

To enter the mansion you need to either live there
or know someone who knows someone who does
live there. You have to ring the belle bell —
an art-deco-repro door handle with TV com
and wait to be buzzed in —
walk through the plaster-of-Paris lions
flanking the entrance. And then you are given access

to a sushi-laden minimalist very long wooden table.
You will be seated under a bourgeois chandelier,
entertained with noise masquerading as conversation.
You will sit, toes caressing the slick warm tiles
mind blinded as you inhale
and watch many people come and go —
but never remember their names.

You will recognize these faces around town, in shops and bars —
but never speak to each other again.
You have all come for the wide white open space
this mansion provides. The thought of having to close the emptiness
with plenty of meaningful communication alarms.
So you’ll argue over which CD to play loudly
and silence each other’s talk with.

After exhaling,
you will take a tour of the mansion,
leave the kitchen, its built-in aquarium and ice-making frigidaire,
pass the bare lounge’s ubiquitous plasma screen,
walk and grope along large, serpentine walls —
look for a photo, used razor, scattered dirty washing,
opened library book, some sort of personal touch, anywhere.

On the walls? On mantelpieces? In the master bathroom? By the jacuzzi?
Maybe in the toilet bin? And you find nothing —

but a rolled-up note with which to powder your nose,
so that you too can accessorise

the mansion and its abundance of emptiness.

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