Still life on fragment (60-85 A.D.)

by Daniel Breen

It was found under London’s financial district.
LONDINIO MOGONTIO, “In London to Mogontius” it says—

cord of wood (no) tin (no) tallow cakes
(no) wool skeins (no) purple-dyed pig skins (no)

two armfuls’ fish (no) fishy belly flayed
with nurdles (no) new life in a (no) money

pot (no) late payment for goods delivered
timeliness: an arrow in the armpit of ax

blades glinting in the sun peaks in pigments
sky in phthalocyanine green sun’s likeness

a rose a lede on water silk slabbed on
bread I owe you three sheep as

repayment for three sheep I lost,
Mogontius, I lost them. That night it

rained it would not stop raining
(that said) I kept an eye on them

I kept an eye on them but diaphanes
they seemed to me the scared wet sheets

(no) sheep. Witness to the world’s saddling
sore we made for shelter—then flew into

that waste of vision edging in sound-
soft a sudden jowly thing believe me

as the smug angel afours slunk easy
through the thickness of the sedge like

light motes sailing in a silk screen, like in a
milken dream my unable eyes curdled wet baby

brain looking blind little fools, the fold, to what
unfurls in the murk unseen, now, a scythe’s curve

—no, a catenary.

On the one hand, the claw is contained by
hold-me-close, which we call the body.

On the other—we named it the contingent
the claw’s tip rimes planed air ceaseless looking

for a sortie, any way out of here any
tearable seam—

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