A Haze Held By Thorns

A jeweller's wheel cuts the constellations
above the circular garden
on the single canvas

the white doe folds her feet into tallowed alabaster;
the dancers pour their shawls
like glazes over the balustrade

beside the seven immaculate triangles of water,
the dead wear their trembler-springs
of hammered gold

the sun notches its arrow;
the pomegranate bleeds;
the virgin wears an ermine on her sleeve

the timbre of the light
a haze held by thorns,
a snakeskin still perfect over the eye.

How it burns back - the myrrh at noon -
the milk from the crushed nectaries
of her breasts -

and beyond the palings,
where the paired birds hang
on their frieze

the falconers
walk into the crucifixion.


from The Lady and the Hare: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2003), © Pauline Stainer, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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1A Haze Held by Thorns

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2Border-crossing

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3Bystander at the visitation

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4Caliban and the Blue Moon

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5Coleridge goes scuba-diving

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6Finisterre

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7Flora in Calix-light

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8Gyrfalcon

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9Holy family with three hares

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10How the snow-leopard became

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11Insight

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13Lepers at Dunwich

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12Landfall

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14'Mantegna's Hares

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15Mountain Bikers

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16Mozart at the Falconry Lodge 1763

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17Mrs John Dowland

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18Onsen

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19Outsleeping the Monsoon

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20Peregrini

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21Prima Nix

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22Quandal

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23Reading by snowlight

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24Reading the Light

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25Rimbaud in Zanzibar

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26Scarecrow

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27Shibui

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28Sighting the Slave Ship

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29Sourin

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30Swans alighting

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31The Blessing

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32The Colony

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33The dislocation

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34The Druids of Primrose Hill

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35The Falconers Bride

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36The Honeycomb

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37The Ice-Pilot Speaks

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38The Infinite Act

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39The nature of the game

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40The Queen of Sutton Hoo

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41The Yew Walk

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42Thomas Traherne in the Orient

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43Tiger facing the mist

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44The Crossing

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