June 14th, 2009





“The only way,” he said,

“The only way”-

Smacking his palm with a knobbly fist-

“Is the way of the desert.

The visions there

Are the purest air;

You can see right through them.”


His terrible eyes

Were rheumy now. He was wearing tweeds.

The guards at the gate-

Enormous men in tight, black suits-

Had turned him away.


Beyond the gate:

The red and white stripes of a wedding marquee,

The rapping of flags in a summer breeze,

The call of the bells.


“So why are you here?” Hypatia asked,

Kindly as if of a frightened child

“A demon caught me up in a whirlwind

And dropped me off. Just look at him smirking.

All knobs and sores and ragged wings.”

He glanced to the side

At a view between trees

Of a cloudless sky and a shining sea.



She gazed into the stone of her ring-

Clear, domed, unfaceted crystal.

It showed her clouds and alien craft.

She rubbed it hard on the nap of her waistcoat.


Singing Le Roi d’Yvetot,

She strolled through the field with her hands in her pockets.



The satyr sat on the churchyard wall

Crossing and uncrossing his little

Delicate hooves.  He wore his hair

Tied back with ribbon.


                                    A barefoot child

Came stepping over the long wet grass
And tipped his boater over his eyes.

He adjusted it.  “But then,” he continued,

“The five day game tests strategy-

Also morale.”


                                The child mocked him

With "Mr Splitfoot can't catch me!"

She knew that when he runs, he runs

Like a girl in high heels



Clad in stone like a bungalow,

The Commendatore climbed from the Rolls.

The wormy veins on the back of his hand

Are miracles- so I’ve heard tell-

Of the sculptor’s craft. Two of his fingers

Have been snapped off and fixed back again

With rods of steel- thus causing arthritis.

His beard is square, his eyes unseeing.

Two amoretti had his arms,

Holding him up, keeping him straight

And guiding his enormous weight

Of marble coat and unearned medals

Towards the church where his wedding would be.



Her straw hat wore a wreath of poppies,

Her hair hung straight to her shoulder blades

I followed her through the kissing gate,

Between the 18th century graves


And entered the breathless cold of the church.

We took our seats in the sandstone nave.

Under the heave of the Romanesque arch

Children carried their candle flames.

Crash went the organ. The bride came in

All made of ostrich and chicken bones-

With her skull at the height of the clerestory windows-

Dressed in papyrus scraps from Fayoum-

On some of which were the words of Sappho

And narratives of the wars of the angels-
And in her wake, in tight formation
A flock of starlings that wheeled and soared...


“Well that was nice,” Hypatia muttered,

Raking fingers through her grey hair.

“Cheer up,” she added, then burst out laughing

Helplessly- as if she were

Back to being the teenager

I’d met- oh- forty years before-

Unmated, all her life ahead of her,

Out with the girls on a summer’s day.