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June 28, 2012 6:01 am

Warming Her Pearls - Carol Ann Duffy

Next to my own skin, her pearls. My mistress 
bids me wear them, warm them, until evening 
when I´ll brush her hair. At six, I place them 
round her cool, white throat. All day I think of her, 

resting in the Yellow Room, contemplating silk 
or taffeta, which gown tonight? She fans herself 
whilst I work willingly, my slow heat entering 
each pearl. Slack on my neck, her rope. 

She´s beautiful. I dream about her 
in my attic bed; picture her dancing 
with tall men, puzzled by my faint, persistent scent 
beneath her French perfume, her milky stones. 

I dust her shoulders with a rabbit´s foot, 
watch the soft blush seep through her skin 
like an indolent sigh. In her looking-glass 
my red lips part as though I want to speak. 

Full moon. Her carriage brings her home. I see 
her every movement in my head…. Undressing, 
taking off her jewels, her slim hand reaching 
for the case, slipping naked into bed, the way 

she always does…. And I lie here awake, 
knowing the pearls are cooling even now 
in the room where my mistress sleeps. All night 
I feel their absence and I burn.

Warming Her Pearls - Carol Ann Duffy