A Conduit: Second Tattersby
On this day when fire could not be thought of
A sooty pall stains stucco shaded by the mantelpiece
But under this
Winks a brilliant blue and does persistently
…this Morse Code going on since yesterday
Refusing glances dart away
And none feels safe to read the message
Three men chew and meet each other’s eyes
‘So,’ the guest begins, and drains his cup.
‘Can this be a sort of ghostly nova? Why have I dreamed it
all night long? Ever since the rains…and I don’t care figs
for aeroplanes. Loathe the infernal machines.’
The host says, ‘We know it already, pictured scenes
are their speech, a means of it. You postulate a conduit,
a new way opened by our probings.
I fear we have a monograph to write.’
‘Awkward,’ sighs the guest. ‘I believe Lady Gimple,
the late aviatrix, was named co-respondent to Mrs. Tattersby’s
‘Naturally enough. Tattersby himself must be the third.
I don’t suppose they’ve said.’
‘Not by today’s Advertiser.’
‘No means,’ de Clieux puts in, ‘of identification.’
My dear madam,
I feel I would have been remiss in my duties, as Secretary of Phenomena, not to have called this to your attention. It was on account of your having a houseguest, that (as I recall) you had written to postpone our walking party. I found the letter and read it through twice, to make certain of the particulars. Indeed, the weather seems (here, I should like to make a pun between incline and inclement, and can’t seem to do it) to forbid our climbing Wisham’s Hill. Our glasses are unlikely to descry anything promising about the lay of the land, in this pernicious fog. Perhaps, if Miss Harvey cannot walk any distance, she will enjoy reading my notes, assembled thus far, on the False St. Crispin’s. She is one of us?
(2017, Stephanie Foster)