Poem introduction

I work as a designer and this often involves research. Working in the V&A I came across an exhibition called At Home in Renaissance Italy. The exhibition included lots of wonderful stuff, such as the reconstruction of domestic interiors, glass, ceramics, furniture, clothes and paintings of women wearing fur, especially Ermine. Ovid spoke about the possible significance of this in relation to a women’s fertility. This cycle of poems arose from of this.

On the Recommendation of Ovid We Tried a Weasel

It was the first mammal he ever gave me. 
He must have trapped it late last night when the moon
disappeared inside a nightclub of clouds 
and stars giggling staggered behind. 

I found it in the morning, slung like an amulet
across the lapel of my winter coat, flattened to a strip,
satin lined, its snout firm like the tip of a snooker cue,
black-tipped and bloody. 

In truth he’d tried other things, such as the skins of a dozen
pulverized rattle snakes, the milk from a score 
of white iced rabbits, a pot of crayfish.

Then there were the showers of flowers.
Oh yes, the flowers, barrow boy loads of flowers,
such as the biblical Selaginella,
a cruciferous plant that he said -
if I ever reached full term - was believed  
as it bloomed to smooth out the suffering of delivery.

He was known to serenade me in my sleep 
with those hollowed out Halloween
gourds favoured by percussionists;
for it’s said the loose pieces left inside 
simulate the rattling sound of an embryo.

What else can I say- we tried and tried.
I practically wore the weasel to death. 
Ask yourself, how many times can you scrape
the bottom of a barrel? He shocked me with a rat,
a dead cat dredged from a sacred river bed. 
I drew the line. He gave up after that.


unpublished poem, © Jane Weir 2015, used by permission of the author

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Recordings

Jane Weir Downloads

1On the Recommendation of Ovid We Tried a Weasel

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2In Commemoration of a Live Birth

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3When Considering Whether to Suckle

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4Quinces

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5Leonardo's Skull

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6The Star of Verona

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7Slip Road with Indigo Sky and Pussy Willows

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8Snout of the Mole

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9With Matt Staring at Ferrets

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10Making Calico Canvases for Heddle

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11Practising on Your Mother

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12English Book

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13Heights of Abraham

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14A Hank of Yellow Wool in a Landscape

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15Poppies

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161914, Working With Red in a Field Hospital, Belgium

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17Stricken Fields

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18I'm Trying to Make Gnocchi for Angelina for Old Times Sake

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19Recovering

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20Stomacher

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21Hat

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22Cigar

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23We Discuss D.H. Lawrence's Story, The Fox

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24Reading Your Spring Letter, Postmarked Middleton - By - Wirksworth

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25Stood At Alan Bates' Grave

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26There, In An Ercol Bottom Draw

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