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The Recto Fragments

October 23, 2012

by A.J. Odasso

FOR SALE: Two pages from a French prayer-book, ca. 1420

folio 31

folio 31 thumbnail

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.



folio 180

folio 180 thumbnail

Did you not die already?

I saw—
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.

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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.

  1. October 24, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I loved hearing you read this. It was very moving to me.

    • November 28, 2012 at 12:24 am

      Thank you very much, Olivia. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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