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.