I work as a designer and this often involves research. Working in the V&A I came across an exhibition called At Home in Renaissance Italy. The exhibition included lots of wonderful stuff, such as the reconstruction of domestic interiors, glass, ceramics, furniture, clothes and paintings of women wearing fur, especially Ermine. Ovid spoke about the possible significance of this in relation to a women's fertility. This cycle of poems arose from of this.
On the Recommendation of Ovid We Tried a Weasel
It was the first mammal he ever gave me.
He must have trapped it late last night when the moon
disappeared inside a nightclub of clouds
and stars giggling staggered behind.
I found it in the morning, slung like an amulet
across the lapel of my winter coat, flattened to a strip,
satin lined, its snout firm like the tip of a snooker cue,
black-tipped and bloody.
In truth he’d tried other things, such as the skins of a dozen
pulverized rattle snakes, the milk from a score
of white iced rabbits, a pot of crayfish.
Then there were the showers of flowers.
Oh yes, the flowers, barrow boy loads of flowers,
such as the biblical Selaginella,
a cruciferous plant that he said –
if I ever reached full term – was believed
as it bloomed to smooth out the suffering of delivery.
He was known to serenade me in my sleep
with those hollowed out Halloween
gourds favoured by percussionists;
for it’s said the loose pieces left inside
simulate the rattling sound of an embryo.
What else can I say- we tried and tried.
I practically wore the weasel to death.
Ask yourself, how many times can you scrape
the bottom of a barrel? He shocked me with a rat,
a dead cat dredged from a sacred river bed.
I drew the line. He gave up after that.
Unpublished poem, Jane Weir 2015, used by permission of the author