A Woman and a Boy in a Box: rehearsing ‘The Turn of the Screw’

Her look, a muted moan, brimful with self-mockery, doubt,
Searching above my brow, never meets my eyes.
The smell of fear obscured by some pastille perfume,
Pervading the very air I breathe.

Sharp eyebrows thundering,
Her anger tears the fabric of illusion;
Then – after a moment’s hesitation – it is sealed again,
Leaving searing scars somewhere deep.

I turn, I bow, I kneel, I freeze,
Let the storm blow over my bent head,
My scourged shoulders stinging with the echo of the pain
Hidden in her half-turned face.

She smoothes back her hair, controlled again – spent?
Takes her hat and coat, snuffs out the candle.
One step, two, she is out of the box, gone.
The only remains inside: her scent, and I – suffocating in the dark.

© jsmorgane

The Woman in Black

A mansion, saluting neglect,
Brazen against the tides of time.
A barren place to bring back
To life again, light behind shutters
Flung open wide again.
The marshes a vast expanse,
Open space uncivilised, wildlife,
Bird-watching, there, from the gable window.

Darkness, shadows, sounds and noises,
Creeping movement, steps and stories
Told by one and all but altered over time,
Calling back to when the tides, the marshes,
The space between the isle and land
Had powers of their own, and called
For sacrifice when any dared to trespass.

One room, frozen in time,
An empty bed and pillows plumped,
Untouched, unused, unloved, forgotten.
Or nearly so. The silent lookers-on,
Wind-up toys, the monkey with his fiddle,
Wasn’t that the dog, playing cymbals
And clowns grinning, bears nodding crazily,
The music box and rocking horse.
No, chopping, rocking, chair.

And this is where she wants you.
In the deserted nursery,
No other place so desolate,
Depleted and devoid of
Any purpose when vacated,
Left, moved out, moved on,
Beyond, the little ones.

The toys, given voice
In a mad circus symphony they tell
What they have seen, have known,
See now behind your back.
The rocking chair, chopchop,
Stopped. Occupied,
So easily imagined,
By one now without purpose
But searching, foraging the past for
Consolation, harvesting…

© jsmorgane (Feb 2012)