Red brick and ivy in shadow and sun:

the sun makes crude annotations on stone

as I shelter in the shadows’ margin,


reluctant to open the heavy oak door

and climb the worn, unfamiliar stairs

to an attic library where the sweltering air


is thick with disruptions. Every paper-

stuffed box hoards invisible mysteries

of skin, sloughed off from each interloper.


Now which is you and what is other?

The patterns of ink on each paper are

Rorschach blots of artful disorder.


I remember a spider in amber, the bubbles

Of air as if it breathed still in its jewel

world, the inclusions of plant and animal


matter, the past, scattered and miniature,

lifted from the primeval forest floor.

It passed from one hand to another.

from Not in this World (Bloodaxe, 2015), © Tracey Herd 2015, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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