Hardy’s Catalogues

Fleeing his clubs, dull honors, wives, the ageing Hardy
hunches down in his potting-shed with his thumbtip-fumbled, fine-
printed seed catalogue’s inflorescences—
peripherally glimpsing the oxygenless blue line

of the fleur-de-lys scaling his inner wrist;
his chalky knuckles, his forearm’s crisp, lisse,
pleated wrinkles; softly brown-spotted
as a fox terrier’s belly. Yet this pleases, only this—

age-speckled surfaces, sun-galls rose-speckled; puckering
petals rugosely leaf-veined: the saturate, flooded
stemlines’ mauves and verdures on the backlit

catalogue’s tissuelike (nearly self-composting)
pages—like his skin, all milliner-ribboned; yet with, barely hooded,
things as they are and will be visible beneath it.

More Poems by Anne Winters