Anne Compton

Three Poems

Sorting Stockings, Italy

after The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance, Ezra Pound, 1915

Soon as the balcony Benedictus is done, the pigeons in St. Peter’s Square rise as one.
My love and I take the overnight to Pisa.

Climb its angle of lean: The higher you go, the nearer to ground.
The paradox of effort in a column of damp stones.

Slant-dizzy, I crouch close to the moss of them. Similar to the parodic green
on the limestones of Cimitero S. Michele where Pound’s buried.
His marker horizontal. Olga right next to him.
Heathcliff and Catherine, for real.

I think of the woman whose lover’s footfalls failed
to follow her up the stairs: It is so late, she said,
the jewelled steps are already white with dew,
soaking my gauze stockings
. Something like that.

My groom’s gone on to the top of the tilt.

This is the kind of circumstance where a list could calm.
Sorting stockings should do: Lyle, such as old women used to wear.
Ribbed cotton for small girls. Nylon, of course. Gauze, the thinnest of silk,
if it’s translucence the wearer’s after. Little good it did her.
Wool, for when the marriage’s over.

I should have done the kings and queens of England. They last longer.
Lasting’s what’s on my mind: Will we ever see ground together
or, alternatively, rise as one?


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