Monstrance or Reliquary


When the Emperor is re-stocking his wardrobe, he usually shops in Paris.
—Raymond Tallis: Not Saussure

January, and her first time in Paris.
She has looked forward to it all her life,
saving her schoolgirl French for forty years,
knowing that one day fate would bring her here.

Musée de Cluny. She is fascinated
by a small lead box with misted windows
and the label: “Monstrance or Reliquary”.
One and the same thing to a bit of bone
from a long dead saint. Show it and keep it;
serve and preserve it. But it bothers her.

A window on the Boulevard St Michel,
Sale! Reduced! Everything must go!

Red satin underwear. Exquisite packaging
for a model of bodily perfection
albeit polystyrene. Bum a plum
just short of ripe. Perfect for making jam.
She is disturbed by having thought of that.

Exquisite tits; pert pears on scarlet saucers
offered to view, held up for admiration.
Monstrance indeed. Her own breasts would be better
held in check by a stricter discipline;
adorned by hindsight and imagination.

The little knickers! Not a brazen thong;
a pert frill, rather—a slight draught would flutter it
like a bird in a bush. But not her style.
She could imagine checking manually
If she had actually got them on.

Monstrance or reliquary. Not the same.
Well, to a saint, maybe; not to a sinner.

Aftermath (Ghazal) Cold Calls