Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 1, March 2011

Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand


Man in a Sheet

The art gallery exhibition is of sculptures by Ron Mueck: the newborn, the decrepit, a tiny figure called "Dead Dad," a colossal nude cowering in a corner with hatred in his eyes. One that I'm particularly drawn to is "Man in a Sheet."

The man—crouched beneath linen, only his head visible—withdraws as if into a shroud. Yet he evokes a feeling of life and a real sense of existence despite his solitude. His demeanour suggests a hollowness or a premonition.

The shrouded figure reflects a spiritual condition that might symbolize contemplation. There's no way of knowing whether this radically reduced figure is battling with his conscience or groping to overcome his inadequacy.

With his shaved head he could be a monk at his devotions, but the figure of Lazarus brought back to life springs to my mind, his short death making him afraid of the sun/Son.

from another room
voices drift
for an instant
along the staves
of the afternoon

my hand rests
on the man's marble head
and leaves an ashen print
which can only be seen
in certain angles of light

the brochure describes
these sculptures as alluring—
I think I know
what it means, though
the words are hard to swallow







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