Choosing a Drawing by Stewart Conn

Choosing a Drawing by Stewart Conn

“I keep several hundred in a friend’s attic,
some so depressing you couldn’t face
living with them. Your best tactic

is to avoid preconceptions, then choose
whatever speaks most strongly to you.”
In charcoal whorls, an elephant and hippo,

baggy bulk conveyed by gradations of light
And shade; portfolios on biblical themes;
A series of Grassmarket down-and outs

drawn long before this became the fashion –
ghosted features left to the imagination.
At last I choose essence of sheep. Head down,

grey streaks scoring the flanks, a pink blur
across its back the only presence of colour,
it captures the ambivalence of nature:

one moment a celebratory leap into the spring air;
the next, the world’s weight, down-tug of gravity.
At the mercy of irreconcilables, I marvel

how in pen and ink or granite, he can impose
such order; through controlled frenzy, convey
the terror, and tenderness, of his inner eye.

Bloodaxe Books 1995

A poem inspired by the drawings of Ronald Rae

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