Even Supposing

an erasure of the chapters from Charles Dickens's Bleak House narrated by Esther Summerson: from chapter 3, 'A Progress'


My portion          I always knew

                                   indeed                  alone

         such a shy

                  rather a noticing way                  seems to brighten

         trifling I         I ought to         better

cast me upon                                   ease

         took the light away                 

                  birthday         melancholy


         quickened when my affection is

vehemence    trembling

disgrace         you will understand

pray daily         forget          forget



set apart         crept

properly         I felt the distance         fervently                                   

         come home     long shadow



almost fourteen         I was reading                  as I always did

stopped by my godmother’s                  

                           is dead

Don’t weep! Don’t tremble!


every contingency, every masterly


         only to know

         upon the whole



beat time to his own music or rounded a sentence


                                    offers             education                  comfort



less able to speak              say?


                  parting kiss    a thaw-drop from the stone porch

                                             and thus I left                                            



The coach

                  frosty trees         pieces of spar

                  sun, so red yet yielding so little

a gentleman          took no notice

                  crying         I faltered

                                                      want to go there?

         very glad to

                                    pleasant              muttering


                                             We left him at a milestone.



As if this narrative were the narrative of MY life!

         little body                  soon fall


                  proofs of love

                                             could I

                                                                        take tears

         conveyance                  conveyance

                                                             a London particular



A fog

                  Oh, indeed!

slowly         the dirtiest         ever


         until           sudden quietude         a silent square

                                                                                 an odd nook

after the journey                  stirred the fire

         strange         stranger         night in the day-time

                                                      candles burning with a white flame

                                                      raw and cold

I read the words in the newspaper without knowing what they meant

         thinking, thinking, thinking

         the fire         burning, burning, burning

                  the candles    flickering and guttering        — for two hours

round a corner, under a colonnade       into a comfortable sort

         a young lady and a young gentleman



saw in the young                  shining                 


         welcome and her hand

         in a few minutes             the window-seat                 

                  the light of the fire upon us         free

Richard         an ingenuous face

         a bustle and a tread        

                  his lordship                  trimmed with beautiful gold lace

                           turned over the leaves                  Miss Ada Clare?

         a suitable companion         Miss Summerson

                           gave me an indulgent look

                                             the candour of a boy

                  in the fog




[Carrie Etter has published two collections of poetry, The Tethers (Seren, 2009) and Divining for Starters (Shearsman, 2011), and edited Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets. She teaches as a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.]

Copyright © 2012 by Carrie Etter, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.