The Folly: Each Nerve

Posted by ractrose on 8 May 2021 in Art, Poems

Charcoal and pastel drawing of Victorian Inspector Samuels, feeling dismayed




The Folly






Each Nerve


She sails, within a fortnight, the Bowfin

Wake, relieved, or like a living man

Entombed, soon, shall heft aside the grinding lid

And breathe

He cannot whisper his secret heart to Howitt

As a maiden sister might…though his friend invites it

Howitt’s intimacy with vein and sinew

Has gifted him, almost, with second sight

And Wake’s own private thoughts disgust him

Shown him in this light


I feel I have gone wrong, sir. It was a fiendish business, and I believe the spectacle, the room, affected me. I ought not to have let it, you will say. I had thought of a trial, of Wake’s ancestry, the London press, the hideous publicity. And you know, I was rather ashamed of myself at the time, feeling for him that pity. He seemed to me quite sane—haughty, if you want to know the truth. Insisted on his innocence, yet offered nothing in his own defence.


It is mid-afternoon

An hour of the day when solacing strangers

Still will walk, and steps remain unshadowed

Even one whose fingers tremble

At the fear of some surprise

Turns the latchkey, pats the owner’s spaniel

And for that moment, exhales a sigh

He climbs

Wake smells a thing his mind can’t wholly recognize

Blood in such redolent quantity

What he sees

Parts of her are set about

He is not Howitt and can’t name them

Her spine is flayed, her eyes

Glassy, not dead, catch his, and he takes this in

The depth to which his struggle

Has resolved itself

His hands move of their own whim

And helplessly

He knows of nothing he can do to help




Each Nerve
Charcoal and pastel drawing of slate-tiled tower at riverside

The Depth















(2017, Stephanie Foster)




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