Caroline Carver

La Gioconda

like a woman on the box seat of a horse-drawn carriage
holding the reins loosely in her un-ringed hands
La Gioconda knows the horses understand
what she wants them to do      the day goes on by itself
as they wait for the merest twitch of leather on bridle
a pull with the little finger        their ears turn back
for the sound of her voice caressing their flanks
they know    without turning their heads    she is
that faint crease of cheek   which takes her thoughts

there will be carrots later

the footman beside her also knows kindness is coming
by the way she draws her feet close    pushes them out
as she does when she’s engineered a mischief in her
the dismissal of a young maid too full of herself
a change of bedroom arrangements    made her
husband believe
the purchase of work by an important artist
was his idea    yesterday someone mentioned a
and now she’s been seen out on her own again
walking with a man
not her husband    on the via dei Neri    she has no
to tell anyone these things    no need to say
what she can do    what she may do
what power she holds in those delicate hands

Caroline Carver started life in Bermuda, Jamaica and England, and after spending time in mainland Europe, moved to Canada. There she worked in publishing, television and pr. In 1989 she and her family settled in Cornwall and she began writing poetry in the mid-1990s, thanks to encouragement from the Falmouth Poetry Group. In 1998 she won the National Poetry Prize, which gave her the confidence to keep writing. She continues to give readings and workshops around the UK and also abroad.