The Curator’s Obsession
I wake on the edge of forgetting a dream ‒ mice skitter
under sheets, tails in the folds of my grip still warm,
widowed from their bodies. Sun creaks in, an intruder
unshutting night ‒ neat hands untuck bedclothes,
clock’s tick now faint, the man on the radio speaks
in Russian, says he holds a flower to the microphone
and the traffic on the London Orbital stops. I write
down number plates because numbers are important,
they’re hatched chickens. I wonder if I’m awake
or a spine of lightning in a November sky.
When I reach for her, the box is dumbstruck, limbless.
Somewhere in the curve of night she left for good.
She borrows her pelt from the cat, lies back,
wallows in its stunted silken threads, the weave
of its stitching, how fur overlaps, silver hair on hair,
hind legs soft, subtle as saplings. She takes her eyes
from the ancients ‒ black rocks, thick set, as if put in place
by a salt gale. She fumbles for lips, hits on a breadth
of red horizon brimming from the window ‒
sculpts her nose from ice found in shattered pools,
melts, shapes like soft wet cloth or tacky clay.
She makes herself every day from lost particles, snippets
of sentences, things hidden from view. One day
she’ll show him all this, undress, exhibit herself
unaware he’s waited for years. Absent words jabber
from the ache of silence, burrow in his foolish head.
Sometimes late at night he’ll hear her after rain,
her raw voice will hang in the air for hours.
Abegail Morley’s fourth collection, The Skin Diary is published by Nine Arches Press (2016). Her debut, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. The above poems are taken from In The Curator’s Hands – a pamphlet forthcoming from Indigo Dreams Publishing.