Passfield’s Folly

Passfield’s Folly

She thinks of his tags and pins, his study, the strange

mustiness that is neither life

or decay. Tray upon mounted

tray of insects, their centres speared,

surrendering wings lassoed

with Latin.

The sun draws moisture from beneath her corset. The stain

surfaces and evaporates.

He is circling the base of Passfield’s tower,

scrawling notes, cut flowers sinking into his satchel.

When we name something, we comprehend its being”  he had said.

Name by name,

he is building a great granite pillar

to pin down the earth,

stop the sky from falling.

The heat tightens her cheek

and sharp salt, flown in on the wings of gulls,

breaks over her.

Named anew on their wedding day,

she had woven corn camomile into her hair.

Climbing down from the carriage, she had stepped on her hem,

Pinning it back as the yew bark bled in the rain,

and the lace trim coated with mud.

In the shadow of her parasol,

she hears the grass snake through the soil,

the tidal hiss that stone must yield to.

A dead butterfly is fastened between his tweezers.

He holds it up for her to see.

Its red wings, a small stain upon the light:

it is the pin pricked finger,

the shock of drips of blood on white cotton; his black bag

the bulging hull of a slave ship.



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