Man Lying on a Wall
City Art Gallery & Museum, Salford
"Man Lying on a Wall"
Homage to L.S. Lowry
You could draw a straight line from the heels,
Through the calves, buttocks and shoulderblades
To the back of the head: pressure points
That bear the enormous weight of the sky.
Should you take away the supporting structure
The result would be a miracle or
An extremely clever conjuring trick.
As it is, the man lying on the wall
Is wearing the serious expression
Of popes and kings in their final slumber,
His deportment not dissimilar to
Their stiff, reluctant exits from this world
Above the shoulders of the multitude.
It is difficult to judge whether or not
He is sleeping or merely disinclined
To arrive punctually at the office
Or to return home in time for his tea.
He is wearing a pinstripe suit, black shoes
And a bowler hat: on the pavement
Below him, like a relic or something
He is trying to forget, his briefcase
With everybody's initials on it.
"Man Lying On A Wall "
After LS Lowry
I suppose it is a question of attitude, like longitude
is to latitude, or perpendicular to horizontal.
Some have questioned his motives, his mental state;
if he was logical, would he have deviated
from the vertical? Was he anticipating death,
preparing for a firing squad by fulfilling his wish
of smoking a last cigarette, or just tired of collecting rent
from families in debt? Was he dreaming, lost in his thoughts,
or imitating a corpse lying in state, in advance
of his funeral? Was he simply a man trying to fit
into the landscape, or maybe one more factory chimney,
in the fifties, giving way to progress?
The original painting is an Oil on canvas, 40.7 x 50.9 cm
and was painted in 1957
It is on display at The Lowry, Manchester