New Donald Moffit Prose Poem
(inc. footnotes)

by Patrick Cosgrove

House of Drawers
Donald Moffit

She[1] positions the glasses of milk at either end of the table. She calls them "trestles". It is a new meaning of the word. Later, in bed, she examines an exhibition catalogue. Through narrowed eyes she inspects the title: "Threads Follow Faeces, like Supple Mountain Streams"[2]. It contains work by Lin Xiawei[3] — yes that Xiawei, the artist who embroidered soiled nappies. Some of the pages show photographs of run-down tenements, blocks of slums from the 1930's. Other pages feature close-ups of a fabulously rare green jaguar[4], of its eyes and fur. Each individual hair can be seen with absolute clarity. Where are the nappies? Why are there so many different shades of green[5]? That's it, no more questions. With great care she places the book back into the drawer. Unfortunately it is the wrong drawer[6] and, though she searches and searches, she will never find the catalogue again. She returns to the kitchen, hovers on the threshold, won't enter the room. On a closed circuit screen by her bedside, she quietly observes the two glasses.


[1] Current "personograph" of the British conceptual artist Donald Moffit. The "she" (Nov 2009 to present) is what Moffit terms his "generic female form". It has frequently been utilised by the artist as a transitional construct — see e.g. the interim "she-period" Virginia Bernard to Lin Xiawei (4/Jan/2004 - 31/Jul/2005)

[2] Tzu proverb and working title of Xiawei retrospective (inc. new works) at Tate Modern London, November 2009 (exhibition abandoned due to artist's death — rescheduled March 2010).

[3] Last non-generic female "personograph" of Donald Moffit. Moffitt often embodies his pieces/artworks over a number of consecutive years, existing as Xiawei from August 2005 until her sudden death from cholera four years later (21/Oct/2009, Hangzhou City Hospital, Zhejiang, China). Xiawei contracted the disease whilst preparing pieces for a Tate Modern retrospective (see footnote 2).

[4] Also a toy car (manufactured by Dinky Toys Meccano Ltd), the first object owned outright (6/Apr/1969 to 08/Apr/1969) by Donald Moffit. Moffit obtained the car by collecting ten packet tops from Puffa Puffa Rice cereal boxes. After sending the tops to the cereal's manufacturer (Kellogg Company), he received (6/Apr/1969) a toy Jaguar 420 (a.k.a. Daimler Sovereign 420). The toy car was subsequently stolen and destroyed (08/Apr/1969 — crushing and miniature bonfire, rear garden, 15 Fountains Garth, Wildridings, Bracknell, Berkshire, U.K) by his new "friend" Brendan O' Callaghan.

[5] For "she", all such shades ultimately derive from the green metallic paint work of the toy car Moffit briefly owned as a child (see footnote 4).

[6] "She" inhabits what is known as a "House of Drawers". In such houses the floors, ceilings and walls of each room are made up of dense arrays of drawers, averaging 50x50 drawers per wall, floor or ceiling (obviously for bathrooms, toilets and hallways this number is proportionately reduced). Indeed, in such a house, individual rooms are themselves drawers: they can be slid away from the house forward into the street or rearwards into the back garden. Of course a House of Drawers is not the same as a Street of Drawers or a City of Drawers in which, respectively, whole streets of houses and whole cities of streets can be rolled in and out like drawers. It should be noted that a Universe of Drawers is problematic but not entirely impossible. Here, an entire universe acts like a drawer containing an almost infinite number of drawers: all visible matter consists of drawers; the very building blocks of matter - atoms, quarks even the strings proposed by string theory, even entities beyond strings, entities not yet imagined — are drawers. As Moffit "personograph" Dr Virginia Bernard (visiting physician Moonlight Bunny Ranch, Lake Taho, Nevada, June 2001-Jan 2004) used to say, "Girls, it's drawers all the way down".


Patrick Cosgrove lives and works in London and writes poetry and short fiction. He's been published previously on the Ghazal Page and in Issues 39 and 42 of The Cafe Irreal.