Built well before the Mahdi sacked Khartoum,
like a ledger or the Church of England
our house is square, accommodating. Swifts,
each May, pronounce their southern benison
on ashlar cornerstones and dead masons…
A butterfly, lost in the wintry cellar,
seems closed as death but wings part knowingly.
O peacock eyes, how you seduce from purpose
and time! Imperial birds cry harshly
in paper gardens… At dusk, in indigo,
swifts dissolve. The house is white, seems solid
as a steamship. Darwin and Marx sent more
than smoke up the funnel.