The Recto Fragments
by A.J. Odasso
FOR SALE: Two pages from a French prayer-book, ca. 1420
Draw me in, blue-veiled beauty. Your tears
singe my skin: this heart can feel again
in spite of the dust that confounds me.
I’ve been sick to death’s brink, senses dulled
by the promise of wellness. It takes years,
so turn the page / set the clock / halt the spell
of ink-blot poison in my veins. His skin
a tracery of rust-tracks and thorn, his ears
deaf shells a-ring with mourning. His eyes.
Did you not die already?
the shroud, the tomb. The wounds
unburdened of blood. Wings
in the webbing
of your hair. Your mother
made round, low sounds
like a [quill-scraped] bird
a [salt-stained] fish. Shrubs
in the distance. Barrow-mounds
of sand, the Dead Sea.
Your drying wish.
Thanks to Boyd Mackus for the images.
A.J. Odasso (blog, publications) wrote these pieces to accompany a pair of pages from a 14th-century French prayer book; the folios survive from different points in the book, and the Latin narratives are therefore badly disjointed. As a scholar of medieval history and bookmaking, she felt that these folios and their enigmatic inscriptions deserved a voice.