Constantia

Constantia felt everything in the

parlour change colour when she

pulled the curtains open. The

yellow-breasted goldfinch her

father brought back from India

finely stuffed and perched, glass

eyes twinkling brightly, tail

feathers painted orange by the

light. The celestial globe (a

normal globe wouldn’t do, said

father) stitched all over with criss-

crossing constellations glowing

as if lit inside. The bluish white

teacup left forgotten on the table

when the nurse had shouted

please come quickly! The frame

of her mother’s portrait inlaid with

gold-flaked roses, where a woman

encircled by a black feather boa

watches her daughter, untouched

by the warm light flooding the

ghost-room that made Constantia

feel, just then, as if all of this

had actually mattered.