On Seeing Charlotte Brontë's Underwear with my Daughter in Haworth

"Are they real?" We have pages of kitchen utensils and books
and candlesticks and nibs, but the charcoal pencil and new sketchpad
are squat as aubergines in her hands in front of this display.
With bad weather forecast and light silting up in cramped windows,
we are the only visitors. The year settles in a corner of the room,
has removed its white gloves, tip by tip, and set to one side

its summer purse of bibelots and sheen. Half-term of her final year,
we are sightseers intent on moors. In the morning, her windcheater
and red wellies will bestow the dust of summer festivals upon

sullen, wind-soaked sheep. We will park, and walk ourselves
into the final, cutting rain between pages of her favorite book.
She wants to go all the way to Top Withens, or the house they say

must have been Top Withens, given its loneliness and set. But now
is artifacts and souvenirs: a perfume with too much musk in it,
a jar of damson jam which we probably won't open until past

its sell-by date. We are buying the word "damson." And we are buying
time. "Are they real?" she asks me, and I watch her reckon the distance
between what should and should never be seen. We have fallen short.

She draws, and what she draws is rain falling slant inside the bedroom;
the bed as a box of leaves and stones and, within the display case,
she hangs from the clothes rail, little moons. On the mannequin,

water lilies stand in for morning dress, and the backdrop is marbled
in what looks to me like veins and arteries. But when I flick through
the sketchpad in the B&B, all the pages, what is left of them, are clean.

Next day, she leaves it in the car. When she moves away, she will leave
it again, a sketchpad with no name on it and only the faintest traces
of where she made skies of darned linen, and unfastened every stitch.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Delivering Poems Around The World

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