He has notions, this William,
whom I watch skritch-scratching
words in a torrent of inspiration —
words that sing, all birdsong, forest shadings,
him their lark, chest swelling, wooing a world
that holds me, ennested, spellbound —
around him, Bankside squalor, fellows drinking,
catcalling, laughing, making merry,
but he, abstracted, pays heed only to his quill,
to romances that snare me breathless
when I sneak and read them.
Each morning, I choose my hairpiece,
my apron, neat bands about my sleeves,
watch for his empty plate, his tepid ale,
do what I can to replenish his musings —
he rewarding me with that blue glint
wink, kind smile, a glance up, down,
when I arrive, when I leave.
My brothers speak, bewildered
of this Anne Hathaway he’s married
— older than him, they say,
three children, one dead, they say.
None of it matters when I read his lines,
nay, nor when he enters a room
and my breath comes
prickly in my chest, my legs,
warm glowing in my cheeks and
(yes I must admit),
burning red hot elsewhere.
As appeared in Stirring: A Literary Collection, July 2003
The breath of beasts!
The ravenous mouths,
gaping, calling for blood,
sniffing the air for it,
moaning at the missed blow,
raised arm, heavy feel
of metal upon flesh,
thin weal of the whip,
smell of piss and shit
and blood puddling on
the matted grass.
The crowds roar!
A squeamish apprentice
vomits a pint of ale
and a meat pasty
on the splintered seat before him.
Samuel’s goose-pocked arm,
his eyes shuttered in sheer
ecstacy. Blood. His head sings
with it. Blood.
As appeared in AtomicPetals, Fall/Winter 2002-03