Karin Gottshall is the author of the poetry collection Crocus (Fordham University Press, 2007), and the chapbook Flood Letters (Argos Books, 2011). Her poems and stories have appeared in FIELD, Harvard Review, The Gettysburg Review, Drunken Boat, and elsewhere. She lives in Vermont and teaches at Middlebury College.
The Victorian Age
One thousand lockets minus a lace handkerchief equal a flock of passenger pigeons, each carrying a Valentine heart. Seven hundred
ladies’ gloves plus a fishing village amount to one temperamental swan and a missing engagement ring. The alphabet backwards
equals the cemetery on the hill. Marzipan equals almonds, eggs, sugar, and a scullery maid weeping into her apron. We’ve lost count
of cravats, hair brooches, and riding boots, traded a deck of cards for two gentlemen playing at charades. Top hats can be added to tapioca—
flavor with rum. Two hundred and fifty petticoats multiplied by twelve chimneysweeps equal a shattered femur. One locomotive
plus a dozen headmasters come to a bakery on Easter morning: hot cross buns with currants. A dirge equals a dirge. Twenty-seven
daguerreotypes times three overwrought aviaries are a solar eclipse. Christmas divided by deep mourning equals burnt porridge. Thirteen hundred orphans left over.