Mirka Mora Tram No 243, Melbourne, 1978




Mirka is well-prepared for the vast canvas

of the tram’s exterior—her diary displays

lessons drawn from Chevreul, Gage, Berlin

& Kay; her concentrated study of mythology

and histories of art. She stirs air, mood,

passion as paint fumes rise from a limited

palette: black for night and white for day,

red most known and green familiar.

Vines skirt the running board and climb

the doorframe, blooming into round red


roses and fable—a bestiary bookended

with locomotive angels. On the inside,

Mirka riffs on Edward Lear, evolves

his nonsense verse for Melbourne accents

and her love of snails: crawly crawl crawl

crawl, she has one say in cursive strokes

of rhyme, appealing to the child in all

commuters. Enamel haunts her nose

for days; her arm will be sore for eight

months. Pleasure can be painful work.



Standing on the corner of Lt. Collins and Swanston

Mirka spies the white moth quavering up the line.

Its wings grow larger and larger, reaching wide

as white unveils her reds and greens; illusions

of yellow, brown and blue. Animals mature

into folk art, a happy charge of fauna on a free

ride through the city. Shop windows rattle and smile.



Pressed through glass and into fabric

Mirka’s musing image folds four decades

on that very corner where she stood—

Gorman® dresses and shirts hold her

angels and serpents, birds and beasts—

made to move and moving still.