The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 5 no. 1


Peter Redgrove

Mistress Shivers


The waters shall be healed the spinet declares,
And like gardens of flowers be full of fish
As the flow-er plays; and the moths

Shall carry all leprosies away on their backs,
On their scaly backs, with formal magnitude.
We move among the shrubs greeting friends

To the music of spinets among the notes that fly
As the insects do, into the shrubs, who are
Our friends at this garden party, all dressed up,

Humans in floral prints among the flowers
As invisible among their friends as spirits
Gathering their perfumes under spreading skirts

To the music of spinets, how easily is a bush
Supposed a broad in clouds of perfume
Broadcast like spinet music, pleasured

From the flowers by bees triple-tonguing each trumpet
Invisibly; is that pink-blossomed tree
Shuddering off clouds of its perfume, Mary?

Or an Artemisia swived by attendant bees
As Mrs. Shivers pleasures the spinet
On spinal keyboards, a creature of scent and electricity

In her floral gown and symphonies of shudder.