Margaret Anne Kitts in 1884

    You peer out ruefully,
    head on the shy side, and leaning
    in from the fringe,
    hands hidden
    behind in-laws, although
    your shoulder tilts
    almost unwillingly
    towards your husband.

    Think you're called Annie,
    can't be sure.

    Is the bulge a bustle, or,
    as I suspect,
    your unborn daughter,
    in whose birth's impossible pain
    you'll die within months?

    I catch myself in your glass,
    draw my lame eye
    straight to your own.
    Feel lonely, as you look,
    and wonder if I've
    painted my pain on to yours,
    if I've made of you
    my palimpsest, have scrawled
    my life over yours.

    Perhaps, in a minute, you'll
    send words hurdling,
    will jig your hidden feet,
    spin kisses like tops
    at your husband. Be bridal.
    It's two seasons before death,
    you must be breathless.

    And he'll go, too,
    he'll die in a fug of opium,
    somewhere in Shanghai.
    And the child will live,
    she'll teach, sketch, preach
    until eighty-three.
    But you'll stay pasted
    to this page, rooted.
    Mentioned in annotations, and never
    conscious of my
    flinching gaze.

From Robinson Crusoe's Bank Holiday Monday