Men (first): Eighth German Spy

Posted by ractrose on 29 May 2020 in Art, Poems
Pastel drawing of god Hades in helmet




The Folly

The German Spy





Men (first)


He said, ‘Smile, Agnes. Always smile.’

Serna the milliner dispassionately surgical

Limning his foundling’s looks

She’d felt safe, so ill-prepared in going out

Wounded and angry and oddly at home

In Marseille he was mother to her, telling her

‘Your brows are too low, you will pluck them.

I tell you how girls are.’ He bent at the vanity

Ushered her to the glass

Used a word to call, so he saw, the most of them

Meaning pretty-plain

‘A face with no nose, no eyes…’

She laughed. ‘There, now!’ He made her up.

‘But see what a hard little harpy you are!’

She’d bared her teeth, they’d laughed together


At customs sheds, beaming at guards

Agnes folds wings

And becomes a colt, told to stand aside somehow

Frisking in the way again

Playful snagging the hat from the box and cocking it

On the crown of her own

Gives a bob and turn to the man, waiting his

‘Do you model them, is that it?’ his wife asks. ‘Is it fun?’

‘Have you seen the new brim?’ Finger to her lips…

Serna laughs, and laughingly he says, ‘Agnes, I forbid you!’

She opens another box.


Two years, a river of banknotes flowing

The scorn of armed frontiers verboten

Agnes one night leaves a cab

Fog on a street in Naples    a hand

Weights the clasp of her bag

And draws her elbow slack


With a single guard in her compartment

She rides to meet a ferry

Moves at gunpoint down a pier

His nudging hand at her back and the

Clock, clock of his heels

Are lost to mist and she feels herself retracing the path of Orpheus

Descending blind into Hades and no hope

Of dodging His thin, welcoming smile




Men (one)

Digital painting of two interrogators sitting on tableMen (second)













(2018, Stephanie Foster)




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