(Portrait of John Ruskin by Sir John Everett Millais
Another poem lost in the archives, which might be
worth a re-blog…
They thought I was in contemplative mood
when I gazed at those lichens and bubbles.
In fact, non-consummation makes one brood.
Damned rain exacerbated our troubles.
Effie assiduously sewed red cloth,
her hair crowned with a garland of foxgloves,
while Everett circled her like a moth,
the pair of them billing like turtle doves.
You’d look like a hyena if your wife
was trailing around the Trossachs like that.
You’d feel that you could take a palette knife
to the one against whom she leant and sat
for hours, reading Dante, while he drew.
And, having him cooped up in that snuff box,
tickling her with fern- as if I misconstrue.
His doodles made me uncomfortable.
He’d come in damp from studying these rocks,
clutching his oils, sepia ink, sable
brushes, teasing her, calling her Countess.
She even trimmed his hair for him one night,
collecting the blonde curls on The Witness,
some Edinburgh newspaper, not quite
read by William, or myself. And his hand
was bandaged because the fool had injured
it, trying to make unstable stones stand
in the stream, for her to cross. I’d endured
enough by then. I watched the salmon leap
in Glenfinlas waterfall and pondered
what they were sowing and what they would reap.
They played battledore in the barn, wandered
the moors and bogs. He said chilly mountains
made him love soft, warm breathing bodies and
all the while it incessantly rained- rains!
Do they think because they are in Scotland
the normal marriage vows do not apply;
that they can shelter under a shared plaid
and return soaking with another lie?
The bubbles have all burst, I’m afraid.
I stand in the midst of this turbulence.
Passions, torrent roars: I counter silence.