The cracking sound above the Freud sisters
is the royal guard shooting black clouds
brimming with hailstones over the Thames.
From the terrace, Anna taps the glowing throat
of a cigarette into her father's skull
he saved from medical school. We are all
emptied, she thinks. Salvador is late
and has been for two years
painting double images—swans,
so unlike hailstones over the water. Ice
stirring the bottom to the surface.
Sophie folds newspaper into origami
birds to float in the melted crook
of her highball. The cut crystal fragments
The Times, tickets to the Ballet Russe,
pictures of trombones, into Braque's collage.
She watches each headline becoming
part of a floating body, blending the ink
in to skin: "The Rookpund Lake
Skeletons"—600 found by a park ranger—
carbon date back to the 12th century.
How it took seven centuries to find them
broken around a remote lake
in the Himalayas. Their deaths
misdiagnosed—as doctors will do—
landslide, ambush, epidemic. Scooped
from ice, each skull with the same
fracture. Sudden hailstorm—stones
as big as cricket balls in the flayed
valley. No cover. Sophie snatches
the page, turns it into a hat
for Lola barking at cannon shots
softer than thunder. Patting the dog
near the ashtray, Anna wonders whether
the animals fled and no one noticed
before the storm, smelling the stones in the air.