"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.