Keats’ Fiancée, Fanny Brawne

Judith Harris

At home, in Hampstead, dawn’s light pulls

in cold drafts, rattling door jams,

thick iron locks; the chill is contagious

as she steps out in her red-hooded cloak,

through cabbage and celery stalks,

in search of the carrier pigeon he sent last night

from his makeshift post in the tiny parlor.

Tomorrow, he’ll sail to Rome

clutching her gift of a marble oval

shaped to fit his palm, and clasped

so many times to cool her own hands

stinging from sewing; the stone

now meant to soothe his fevered skin
and remind him of her
while she scans the morning sky—

a frosted wind bowing the eel grass,

two strands now tangling into one.


Judith Harris

Judith Harris is the author of Night Garden, The Bad Secret, Atonement (LSU Press), and the critical book, Signifying Pain: Constructing and Healing the Self through Writing (SUNY Press). Her poetry has appeared in The Nation, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, The New York Times blog, Ploughshares, The Hudson Review and “American Life in Poetry.”