Awful Rivalry: Eleventh Tattersby

Posted by ractrose on 1 Feb 2019 in Art, Poems

Charcoal and pastel drawing of woman staring past her lover at her boyfriend



The Folly






Awful Rivalry


The extraordinary freedom!

I refer to taking matters of despatch into one’s own hands.

I had been inclined, even I, to stick to rules, you know. Embarrassing

the name of Bevington not done.

(As though this were a thing of real concern.)

I bore the insults. Wavered, I tell you

On the brink of feeling

Titles, after all, must find each other out…

Here what feels to the guest like the clutch of a hand

Chilling his forearm with such freezing immediacy

He fears he has been done an injury

How at this moment he could wish, to share this insight with his colleagues!

Do you understand me! Roscoe shakes him and he notes

the arm not broken (shattered, one might dare suppose)

I’d taken her across to Paris, taken her over the sea

To Antwerp. We’d strolled their sodding cobbled streets, took Flemish snaps

Of architectural excrescences. It was cosy. We came across Tattersby.

Lunching at the flying club.

‘Oh,’ she’d said, ‘now you I’ve heard of. You had an awful rivalry with Anselm once.

This,’ she’d said, ‘is Anselm’s brother.’

Tattersby yawned a bit.


I recall her never showing the spark of interest

And all her talk had been of theatre

How she’d be an angel, now, being that her father

Had forbade her, in her first youth, going on the stage

‘How’—falsetto again, sing-song—‘Simon, pet, I’m curious…

Does one learn to pilot a plane?’


It was only some stunt I’d had in mind, taking off

Only hoping, perhaps, to buzz them, royally.

But homing in, it came to me…be a fine and fitting end

To our little ménage à misery.

But there you see, my friend

The true pilgrim’s progress of a deadly flirt

I don’t see it, the guest says

Ah, says Roscoe. You shall.




Awful Rivalry

Charcoal and pastel drawing of straight-laced housekeeper

The Hothouse Rose: Twelfth Tattersby















(2017, Stephanie Foster)