From the Embassy of Leaks to the Court of Cracks

We are sorry for the way this will arrive,

damp and damagesome. No doubt

the peculiar constitutions of our nations,

catastrophically susceptible to each other,

account for the long gap in correspondence

though here we find no record of any sort

to suggest a former, well-established channel.

That is, however, the way of our state;

we operate, as you can see, impromptu,

with agents very liable to defect.

Many have lived for a long time among you,

on a favorite shirt or as a way of thought

that landed on you suddenly and stayed.


Staying, as we hear, is something rare

within your fissured borders. Much tips out,

much topples. Much is built and clutches up

from treble-bound foundations, tenoned, splitting.

In your case, pride defers, takes second place

to the almighty fall. And how you love it!

The moment brickwork tears like rotten curtains;

the sound of earth exhaling after thunder

as brightness rushes back over downed walls.

For generations we’ve exploited this,

have learned both how to enter and to cling

to what you’re always opening. We stuck

and slurred your symmetries. It was enough.


But recent changes, so oppressive for

both you and us, have forced this Embassy

to use newfangledness. To be overt.

We’ll spell it in black mold, with feeling: PLEASE,

please tell us what would tempt you. Gasoline?

Redcurrant jam? A shattered whisky fifth,

muddled with builder’s earth? Take them. Take these.

Make it official; all we have, we’ll share.

Unerring knowledge of the passage through

is given us, which we will give to you

for love, and just one fractured future sight

of years to come. Friends, what we’re saying is,

please tell us everything we shouldn’t know.


Author: Catherine Rockwood

Catherine Rockwood lives in MA. Poems in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Liminality, Psaltery & Lyre, and elsewhere. She reviews books for Strange Horizons, and reads for Reckoning Magazine. Her chapbook, Endeavors to Obtain Perpetual Motion, is available from the Ethel Zine Press.

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