The Story of Madame Chevalier

By Ciarán Carson b. 1948 Ciaran Carson
You remember the Incredible Shrinking Man? I said.
Well, last night I dreamed I was him. It began the same way.
 
The shirt cuffs were the first thing that came to my attention,
drooping down over my knuckles in the bedroom mirror.      
 
And my waistband and shoes were getting looser by the day.
Within weeks you could perch me on your knee like a male doll.
 
Later you would put me to bed in the empty matchbox.
You failed to watch for the spider that came to explore me.
 
I fought her with a darning needle, a button my shield.
She retreated from me on a thread. I followed her down
 
to the cellar. How I made my way back I’ll never know.
It took me days to travel over the quilt to your hand.
 
No longer a hand but an Alpine range of sleeping flesh.
I crawled into an open pore and entered your bloodstream.

Ciaran Carson, “The Story of Madame Chevalier” from For All We Know. Copyright © 2008 by Ciaran Carson. Reprinted by permission of Wake Forest University Press.

Source: For All We Know (Wake Forest University Press, 2008)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Ciarán Carson b. 1948

POET’S REGION Ireland

Subjects Living, The Body, The Mind, Relationships

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

Biography

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, into an Irish-speaking family, poet Ciarán Carson attended Queen’s University, Belfast. He held the position of traditional arts officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1998 and was appointed director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in 2003. Carson is the author of a number of collections of poetry, including The Irish for No (1987), winner of . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, The Mind, Relationships

POET’S REGION Ireland

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.