wives and daughters
Listening to
Wives and Daughters  

Though my work is unfinished, like the rain,
I lean to my black radio, head soothed
as though by touch.  Victorians, again:

Mrs Gaskell.  Why have I not read this?
A sharp doctor, his second wife, daft, vain;
Molly, good child, Squire’s second son. No kiss

strokes the airwaves.  Squire spends too much on drains,
boy, misled, sails for colonies, then fades,
distantly dull.  I nod.  Glass blurs with rain.

Yet, briefly, he returns, hurries to call,
then fever bars him.  He waves from the lane,
she spots the drenched white cloth-  What? Is that all?

Yes, nods the voice, the page stayed bare; explains
that Gaskell died.   Did she, good priest’s wife, run
to Venice, with her lover, in the rain?

I tug soaked sheets. Night’s cutting, blind in rain,
hisses its brakes.  Now, run!  Forget the name,
reach platform’s dark, the whistling rush, his train.

Alison Brackenbury

If you have any comments on this poem, Alison Brackenbury would be pleased to hear from you.