Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Where It's Always 20 to 9.

Miss Havisham's Table
"Look at me," said Miss Havisham. "You are not
afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun
since you were born?"
-- Great Expectations

She is not the old bat you were taught in school.
Her dress is a little loose, a topiary form
on a withered yew, rough like cast bandages.
On the dresser, a jeweled brooch welters
in a bride-to-be's mess, its sunburst pattern
impressed in dust. The only clock running
is Miss Havisham herself, who sweeps the room
on Pip's shoulder, round and round
the wedding table. 20 to 9. 20 to 9. 20 to 9.
What's different here is simple: loss
is fixture. Memory occludes each crystal
on the chandelier; her foot is a rag of silk.
She has refused to play Time's brunt,
triggering a mortal spar: each wrinkle, each
sallowed sag of skin, each mouse that rattles,
eats away the ordered universe. The cake,
a one-time ziggurat of cream and froth, hums
with the clicking shells of beetles. Cobwebs
drape like aviary nets. She has accepted ruin.
She expects to lie down on the dilapidated feast,
a pyre of dark and lovely light. What else
is there? She's done the best she could:
cursed the day, trod on a few young lives,
preserved a world that's cantilevered.

In Defense of Objects, available now from Bear Star Press. $16. No shipping fees.


  1. You are brilliant.

    I love this!!!!!

  2. Miss Havisham from Dickens:

    "I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the arguments of my best friends."

  3. "a one-time ziggurat of cream and froth, hums
    with the clicking shells of beetles"


    "She's done the best she could"

    that made me laugh

  4. Linda, you have woven a texture here so rich in color and imagery... (and depth in understanding) I am blown over and in love with this poem of yours. A beautiful work!

  5. My order is placed; can't wait.

  6. Thanks, everyone, for the kind comments.

    Virginia: That quote you included is fantastic, isn't it? The "as if" changes everything--she's not really saying they're wrong, is she?

  7. No, not at all!

    Its saying she "marches to a different drummer"

    (as many artists do)

  8. except...

    for morality. We can't do without this one.

    Sometimes we hurt people (I know I have), and are hurt by them.

    But we must forgive them and find our common humanity, our common ground, again.