With Isabella di Medici in the Arctic

Hold your father’s urn
Shoulder a hawk proud arc
One day you turn around
Find a man old as porcelain
Wearing your stolen face
The way a tree still wears the gnarls
Of long discarded branches
Gone to the shape
Of half-mouldered sleep
As if, beneath the soughing sound
Of leaves falling from a newfound sky
The ashen colour long after fire
Came to a cooler season
Below the red of morning
That shepherds confusingly swore
Not yet supper time, no storm
The doves watchful until
The dishevel in your hand
moves like a raptor

Someone shot linen
From the balcony
Past the atrium
In a mistaken suicidal fall
With those poised static lines
Of TV’s glacial world
Bit off the tip of your frost bitten finger
The aurora warm and bright as gangrene
The dead come slowly up the stairs
Without much left to say
Just the heavy echoes
Of yesterday’s too heavy
Orthopaedic shoes

An old woman’s tractor strength 
In each resounding drop

Stairwells have their harvests
Of dragged feet and brooding shadows
Fallow seasons where
The ceiling is the ash of long extinguished fires
The automatic sensor
Too bright and too slow
To escape the darkness, in consequence of light

On the second landing, while she waits a breath
Wagered against a fast approaching dark
She pulls a morsel from a paper bag
The heart-meat colour of red liquorice
The threads in sinews tear apart
Considering the broad and endless expanse
Of your lost face’s
Artificial strawberry taste

The door scrapes, like ice shelves calving
Scrapes again
Now step-on, hunted, cat soft
Ridges carved to corridors
By an endless season
On the heaving contours of your brow
Isabella de’ Cosimo I de Medici (circa 1570–74) by Allesandro Allori, after restoration from a poor, 19th century makeover. Courtesy of Carnegie Museum of Art.