the madrigal, volume iii
to the shapeshifter
by mary ford neal
you might be a melting clock but you are
a man with a dog’s head. beneath your muzzle your tie
is pale orange silk and your jacket
is forest green tweed. you hold a pipe in your hand
which you never raise to your lips.
the thing is just to stand there.
you only stand on scuffed parquet floors in front of
whitewashed walls. you might be framed
but it’s not necessary.
you could have been a high-backed chair but in fact you are
a turquoise tiled fireplace clashing gently with
an exposed brick wall.
you don’t like heat but it’s your vocation and
you suck it up. very dated
you’d hoped they might rip you out but
you grew on them. they’re quirky.
you always said the life force was in everything
and look at you now member of the inanimate community
yellow Bakelite coffee pot revelling in caffeinated rightness.
i’d have recognised you anywhere. on reflection
i’d have expected something else perhaps a rubber duck
or a jack-in-the-box but this is perfect for you bravo.
first thing anyone sees in the room and bound
to be touched and held.
you’ve lucked out.
Mary Ford Neal is a writer and academic based in the West of Scotland, where she still lives and works. Her poetry is widely published / forthcoming in magazines and anthologies, and her first collection, ‘Dawning’, will be published by Indigo Dreams in August 2021. Mary is assistant editor of Nine Pens press and ‘192’ magazine. She is on Twitter @maryfordneal.