A Haze Held By Thorns

A jeweller’s wheel cuts the constellations
above the circular garden
on the single canvas

the white doe folds her feet into tallowed alabaster;
the dancers pour their shawls
like glazes over the balustrade

beside the seven immaculate triangles of water,
the dead wear their trembler-springs
of hammered gold

the sun notches its arrow;
the pomegranate bleeds;
the virgin wears an ermine on her sleeve

the timbre of the light
a haze held by thorns,
a snakeskin still perfect over the eye.

How it burns back – the myrrh at noon –
the milk from the crushed nectaries
of her breasts –

and beyond the palings,
where the paired birds hang
on their frieze

the falconers
walk into the crucifixion.

from The Lady and the Hare: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2003), © Pauline Stainer 2003, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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