Matthea Harvey: Frederick Courteney Selous’ Letters to His Love

Una and the Lion

I once saw my life through the lens of one of your amber earrings
saw tiny skeletons caught in the silver oval with no chance
of struggling free and felt trapped and suffused with all
the sweetness and stickiness of your affection here surrounded
as I am by such spectrums of color and life suddenly all is clear
here I am the trapper littering the landscape with corpses
no longer feeling as if the path of my life is being cut into rock
by passion’s aimless meanderings I look back to you as though
through a telescope in this I mean I know what I want now
are the hidden things the intangible and unimaginable all
that you spoke of long ago I thought it was all about the chase
I reveled in hardships practicing sleeping on the dormitory floor
for when I would have the ground as my bed but I never practiced
sleeping with my knees in the hollow of another’s knees or breathing
slowly together instead I learnt the shallow breath of one who must
always remain undetected and in this way I have let my face slip from
your dreams I am here I am combing the grasses for hidden lions
riding after herds of elephants coming home with my own skin torn
my disguises and ploys seen for what they are by simple animals
who turn around and charge when they have been betrayed

~Matthea Harvey

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