David Brooks
The Tableland


The Art Gallery of NSW and Red Room Poetry invited six poets to respond creatively to the artworks in Shadow catchers, an exhibition of photographs and moving image from the Gallery’s collection.

Ian Dodd Mirror Image 1975, printed 2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Gift of Anthony Bond 2000

David Brook’s The Tableland is a response to Ian Dodd’s Mirror Image.

David says, “The mirror, for so I thought it then to be, was like a large moon at the photograph’s centre, the rest seemed briefly up to me.

Clearly the mirror was on a table-top – a vanity, to be precise – and just beneath it, on the vanity’s surface, were items one might use in making oneself up. A brush (was it a brush?), a powder-box (was it? or a jewellery-box?), a bottle and some lipsticks (were they?) standing on end. I let my mind roam.

If this huge, white, mirror-like space was a moon, what might be below it? A table-land.”

The Tableland

High on the tableland,
in a shallow valley, by the entrance
to an abandoned diamond mine
amongst discarded machinery and

empty oil drums, a broken
aerial, long past redemption, hums
in the stiffening breeze
above the pillaged cabin

of a great earth-mover
beside a darkened tool-shed,
rusted water-tank
and the tiny lean-to over

a latrine on a clearing where,
in an ancient caravan,
the old caretaker and a pair
of visitors drink bourban

and, with stones for money, play
lazy poker late into the night, the dove-
white bowl of the moon low above them
as big as half the sky.

David Brooks

Poetic reflections is produced in collaboration with Red Room Poetry

With thanks to Together In Art supporter: Presenting Partner of the AGNSW Contemporary Galleries UBS