6 a.m. and Monday came
Tidal change to flood a footstool and make of it
A sundial, quadrangular book of hours and fretted terrier
By the angle and the time what has come over you?
Point and I will follow Little One
Down the implications of your shadows I can see
Sunday gated as it waits
Foretelling each creation day and after that
Where moonlight depth of field lagoons you
And only you, alert and barking
My faithful footstool, forecast and depiction
Leigh Davis was born in Raetihi in 1955 and now lives in Auckland, where he works as a merchant banker. Since the appearance of his first book, Willy’s Gazette, in 1983, he has been regarded as one of New Zealand’s leading avant-garde writers. From 1983 to 1985, he co-edited the magazine AND with Alex Calder and Roger Horrocks. It was important for introducing French literary theory to the local scene. After an absence of some years, Davis returned in force to poetry in the late 1990s. Some of his recent work can be seen on his website jackbooks.com.
Davis comments: “The work from which ‘The Footstool’ is taken, General Motors, is a loose play of ideas set in some relationship to St Nicholas of Tolentino Revives the Birds, a predella [Italian for ‘stool’ this refers to any painting intended as an appendage to a larger one, especially to an altarpiece] by Garofalo [an Italian painter of the Ferrarese school, 1481-1559]. The work is reproduced many times in General Motors. Predellas were meant to be stared at a lot, and thought about a lot too. In doing this with the painting, I was struck by how wonky the composition of the picture was, or rather, how off-balance. Everything has a lot of way on: the attendant’s robes, the bed-clothes, the attendants’ relative sizes. That is, time is an idea in the work. The stool has an intensity. It is a hollowed image, a spacious one, and skewed fractionally, close to the glorious gap that opens to the right hand side of the image.
“I became interested in the footstool’s moment.”