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July 2, 2012

Levens Hall (1645)

Through wobbled glass I swear
I saw her hand upon your sleeve –
cat’s paw

Heard the clarion whoop
of your fascination
and stepped back

My feet stutter
on the dipping stairs,
fingers drack on oak panels.

Stock still in the drizzle of this northern garden
(clipped, axial, modulated)
I wait to regain
mosaic equilibrium

my breath yet caught in the crisping
taffeta of her skirt,
snagged by her

eyes greening
with the toxic seep of yew

the absence of her
jasmined skin.


*Ha-ha is a term in garden design that refers to a trench, one side of which is concealed from view, designed to allow an unobstructed view from a garden, pleasure ground, or park, while maintaining a physical barrier in one direction, usually to keep livestock out. It also may be used to mean a ditch, one side of which is vertical and faced with stone, the other face sloped and turfed, making the trench, in effect, a retaining wall, sometimes known as a “deer leap”.

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  1. edhart7 permalink

    i see you, every motion poised, reporting the world as such, ‘poised’ being salient feature

    • Thanks, Ed… interesting what you say about being ‘poised’… was hoping to suggest one of those super-charged moments after which life has shifted.

  2. mosaic equilibrium…smiles….nice…cool bit of personification as well…and great use of language…the guttering…fingers drack….nice…

  3. I think you’ve done what you’d set out to do here, Becky. I can’t help but to feel the shock and disconnection of the moment. I still feel the presence of a ghost, but know that this is one of those poems that will probably lead every reader on an individual road to interpretation. I think that’s great, by the way, I always enjoy poetry that is full of mystery; poetry that I can never fully figure out. Gorgeous language…as ever. Hope you’re enjoying your excursion πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Emma! Yes, I’m happy to hear you can feel various possible readings here…and Turkey is brilliant… I have several Turkish poems bubbling at the moment.. Will be back in Dubai in a couple of days… πŸ™‚

  4. Such an intriguing poem…it speaks of how skewed we may see things, sometimes…”Through wobbled glass I swear I saw her hand upon your sleeve” …to “I wait to regain
    mosaic equilibrium” …fabulous piece, Becky πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Louise…. great to hear your response to this one… I think it can be read many ways and what you say about skewed is central to what I had in mind. Much appreciate your visits πŸ™‚

  5. aprille permalink

    that wobbly glass usually does my eyes in.
    It distorts everything and I can see it calling up imaginary ghosts, whether from the past or present.
    For a minute I thought it was about the green-eyed moster, but now I’m not sure. Drack? Australian for unattractive? dracula?

    • Yep, my Dad spent some time in Australia and brought back some great words! I like the heavy, bleak sound of it here.. thought it would help conjure how the spectator’s mood and world has shifted.

      Definitely scope for reading jealousy into this one .. thanks for your comments.

  6. The beveled glass image seemed to set the tone for this…how sometimes what we see or think we see is distorted, perhaps by our expectations. For me, it evoked a memory of a time way back when I found out about “the other woman,” with someone I was dating, I thought exclusively.

    • I was pleased to find the wobbly glass pic of Levens Hall, I could then lay it over a photo I took there last year. Yes, very much about a key moment..when eyes are opened and the world changes.

      Sorry to hear about the moment this led you to in your own life.. spot on in terms of what I hoped to suggest though.

      Thanks, Victoria… I’ll be catching up when I’m back in Dubai πŸ™‚

  7. This speaks of jealousy to me, as if you’ve seen your boyfriend with another woman. Perhaps not something you can prove. But maybe you saw a little something in the way she touched his sleeve, the way she looked at him (and he at her in fascination with her interest), or the way her skirt twirls. I think this is supported by your definition at the end, as if you are watching them but they do not see you.

    “the absence of her
    jasmined skin” … I think you saw her “skin” change color when she thought you were not around.

    This is brilliant, superb writing. Every word thoughtfully chosen.

    “wobbled glass”

    “cat’s paw
    curling” (love the way this line visually curls)

    “and stepped back
    guttering” (likewise, love the way the second line “steps back” from the window)

    “drack” (great word)

    “I wait to regain
    mosaic equilibrium” (one of my favorite parts)

    “eyes greening
    with the toxic seep of yew” ( my other favorite part, which clearly supports my theory about jealousy)

    “jasmined skin” (I love the word jasmine … soft, sweet, gentle, white, lovely … all the things this girl no longer seems to be)

    Beautiful work, Becky.

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful and extended comments.. I’m thrilled by your response and very happy to hear your reading of the piece.. certainly fits what I have set out. πŸ™‚

  8. “…My feet stutter
    on the dipping stairs,”

    Loving the descriptive phrasing used throughout this whole piece. Very nicely woven, Becky!

    • Thanks, Ginny.. very happy to hear your thoughts – especially about the descriptive elements.. πŸ™‚

  9. Beautiful and meaningful… love the feeling and poetry.

  10. somehow this painted a scenes from films like pride and prejudice in my head…lots of things going on here, also between that lines

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  1. Through wobbled glass – Rooms With Views

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