The Garden of Earthly Delights
After Hieronymus Bosch, c. 1500
by Rachel J Fenton
I. The Man in the Bowler Hat
wait noiselessly in the field tent
of our bathroom,
where powder light hovers as icing dust
through the white nylon curtain
hanging like a drunk
from the chrome rail, one foot
in the tub: half the shower rings are bust,
their sickle forms
collected by the trap,
And usually I'm left alone to tend
my patients but today
you want to know,
today you've ventured in, your thoughts
unmasked to ask:
what's that you're painting?
I load my brush with titanium
acrylic: an answer.
II. Destroyed Object
The artist is a poet.
The artist is all ear, eye and heart.
The artist sits alone to rebuild the moments
from myriad perspectives.
The artist has a partner.
The artist's partner is also a poet: he sits
writes his poems in his head
and keeps them there.
III. Cannibal Feast
When I come to suck fresh raspberries'
juice from your hair
pressing the clasp of my mouth's purse
on the oyster of your ear;
when I bring you morsels dripping syrup
from my mother's lips
to tempt the dormant hunger from the tip-
wrecked freezer of your belly,
know the table is set,
the cupboard's empty.
IV. Four Hours of Summer, Hope
It isn't the loss, it isn't the grief,
a joke in the worst taste
when your hopes and dreams, your family,
end up in a yellow bag of clinical waste
along with your mistakes.
* * * * *
Rachel J Fenton is a working-class writer living in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her poetry has appeared in English, Magma, The Rialto, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Landfall, Overland Journal, various anthologies, and a chapbook of poems, Beerstorming with Charlotte Brontë in New York, is forthcoming from Ethel Zine and Micro Press in April 2021.