A Cold Reception: Thirteenth Tattersby

Posted by ractrose on 22 Feb 2019 in Art, Poems

Charcoal and pastel drawing of pile-up at horserace before pavillion



The Folly






A Cold Reception


She’d written him a letter too confiding

for a cold reception

(Flying an enthusiasm, scientific enquiry, not…in his book)

A girl of twenty…she has since learned her lesson

1911—April it was—she’d been introduced at Newmarket races

to Mr. Ismay

All so gay

She thinks of his face

But…there he is—

Simon, always now, hovering

behind her in the glass, eyes beseeching

It makes Fiona want to spit

‘Simon!’ she snaps. ‘I do forgive you, of course’

And this lie dispels nothing

She is the sort who does the expected thing

The powder puff obscures him in a cloud of talc

The very words call up a succession

of infuriating faults

Most of all that twitch of the lip that was not a smile

Because she’d put it down in ink

‘Is it possible? I think I love you.’


And had it been possible? Well, youth fades


And in the sitting room below

The guest wrapped in a blanket

Propping a lap-desk with his knees

yawns by the fire

‘Give that up,’ the host suggests. ‘Can’t see any need.

Roscoe’s an unprincipled haunter, bound to be.

Dare say by Sunday you’ll find he’s annotated your account

In soot, or spilt tea, or melted frost-runes on the windowpane

If it happens you’ve set events down wrong.’

‘Capital!’ they think they hear,

from a pocket dark and cold

somewhere up the chimney




Stylized drawing of man outlined in blood spatters

A Scientific Family: Fourteenth Tattersby















(2017, Stephanie Foster)




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