Took a turn or
two across a plot
of May, to where
he saw wild thyme,
some clustered oxlips,
bunches of riviniana

And, the way Adam
put it, their bodies seemed
incorporate with their
names. Cobwebs, sticky
on cut fingers. Tongues
caught up in the sweet

So, speaking leaves, he
said: ‘Commend me to
this Mistress Squash, your
mother. Drive me together
all you can gather. The
stars can’t be so far

Bring me that fellow called
Hay. Uncork a bottle of
smoke. Help the old lady
out of the bush. Hee
haw, when the cart has
passed and straws still glint
on some snags in the hedge.

Close your eyes and make
a mum with your mouth
shut. Just so. Now
look. The stanza is a
born dancer, out on
the green. Tongs and
bones in your good ear.

The notation is numinous.
Some patient gentleman with
the beak of an ibis is
writing it up, in case
any honey leaks from
a bee’s thigh, or a hip

Bosky. The occult
semiosis of the forest.

A l’ombra d’un bel
, where you dip
into syllables and
emerge stringing

What had you in mind?
Red sienna? The fur
of a lappet? The purpling
tips of its wings? Or
this little chap, nodding,
perhaps, and wringing
his hands?

With your last twitch you can
point at the letters that make up
the spell. Too late to explain.
You are trained to assume
the soft applause of the Latin,

levis and labi, as you ask for
a wind to ripple the carpet.

Freeze and scream. You ragged
devil! He erupts in a bray and
glares with what might be
recognition. Asshead. Dolt.
Blunderer. O monstrous! O
Thisbe! Only thine! Only
a ninny!

But we are not on
stage, so that might be
the magus, Agrippa Von
Nettesheim, approaching
the hole in the wall,
with nothing to suggest we
should have his number.

Take a map. Park the car.
Undo your napkin in the
moonlight under the Duke’s
Oak. Sort it. Pace it out. You
don’t need ribbons on your
pumps. Just a note on the key
signs and an almanack.

‘What it means
is not what it
refers to,’ grumbled
Flute, rubbing the
stubble of his

Kiss the rubric or the prayer.
Kiss your stipend till its
corners chink. Kiss the taste
of a freckle, or what the cow
slopped into the rough-cast.
Kiss lime. Kiss hair. Whatever
you think is not my lips.

Shadows cascade
down bales on
wagons which pass
away under trees,
and I swear that
they are fluent

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