J.D. Fergusson, Glasgow Spring, 1942

Nineteen-forty-two: the war was at its worst, and you,
old artist, you were at your best: beauty your weaponry:
assurance of joy, brush-stroke, form,
tree, spire and figure in unified freedom.

Did you see the University tower
Silhouetted against the blitz;
watch the incendiary floating by
on its ominous parachute?

Enough of that. It is spring.
Sunlight is indiscriminate –
and this fine figure of a lass,
her full breasts pressing proud
against her grape-red dress,
totally at ease,
poses for us all.

The trees have green shoulders:
her hair is flowers and fruit,
a dome inverts her chin;
her fingers form the angle of a roof,
assurance in the geometry of her arms.

Patches of white light brighten
everything, and the spire, piercing the top of the canvas,
disappears into space. As for the river Kelvin,
it would cut the painting in two,
were it not invisible.
But we know it is there, just as we know
the sky is not the limit
and spring is not just
capable of it, but has
invaded the entire land.

John Purser