Caroline Lamb

/ /

I could not live enough!
Another round, another buzzing flute!
Come now, Gordon, break this ancient knot.
I’ve painted myself Persian, as you like. Notice the scruff?
Merely a bit of pencil, dot-by-dot…
Of course, you shaved. Always the bride & I the brute.

How well we understood our parts!
When I was Dido, pyre & wince,
you capered like some silver planet in a peacock shawl,
clucking at heroes with your highway arts;
or when I played the Furies with their whirlwind scrawl,
you were Anna not the prince!

You see that waiter by the punch, his nose
is beaked Venetian, with a charming bell —
sweet Haydn, silver-crisp, each time he sways! —
you offered one, I mean a bell, Christ knows,
though we had boys as dutiful & daft in former days…
So why not now? Desire thrives. We know the spell!

Black pearls & grapeshot,
hair-trigger cannonades & Coan silks,
or verse more memorable than emerald-heavy hands:
these gifts of ardor & armament were lost
like ashes in a skirl of sand
or hemlock in a weary cup of milk.

My lips were golden apples on your chest,
green-burning gold, Parisian, hooked,
descending, kiss-by-kiss, until your lap turned Troy,
until your hands curled captive on my breast,
until your license stammered, like a bookish boy,
unmastered, ransomed, shook!

“Pale passions, pale retreats,
& pale the pleasure of your last excess!”
I’ve peeled this viper from your majuscule.
What have I tasted that you cannot eat?
The eels of Harrow, the carping minnows of a Roman pool,
the sluice of swart hidalgos down your chest?

No other served our appetite or felt
its rodent need — frantic, ruled
by orients & pageantries of plague:
sprawled, fever-sweet, blood woven welts
that mapped a mingled continent of bodies, vague
ensembles, a Pantagruel

of crooked teeth & rouge…
Beyond the river-reed & whispered flood
we threw our calculus of eager flesh,
desires heaped on wailing jaws, & grouped
the sheepish fruit of this Britannic orb, then stretched
leviathan in bartered blood!

Have you forgotten it? the stubborn flint
of Jonah at your ribs; the holy flare;
the slick inferno worming lip-to-lung?
to thrive on thoroughbreds or dowries spent
to keep their daughters at the second rung?
our world of deviled fractions, urgent shares?

Alone, with this? I cannot be. I drive
the brand into your brow & trail
the hissing scent of smoke with cannibal
delight! All’s gone, accomplice? I’ll herd our sins & thrive
where London stuffs her pretty lips, burst-full
of butcheries excerpted by my nails!

Midnight? The dance is over… Turn me out!
What now remains for Caro, dearthling, dear?
the talcum of your marrow banked
like winter at my cheeks? — Don’t shut the door, I’ll shout!
I came bewitched by histories for blood not thanks.
Know this: I’ve settled on our ruin like a spear!