Karen Rigby

Watching Freddie Lyon in The Hour


I think about wiry sangfroid, and how my favorite
TV men are rebels with devil-may-care hair:

chip-on-a-shoulder cloak and dagger. The draw
about misfits who love without being able to say,

and so resort to barbed lines, is that we’re all Freddie,
too obstinate in a borrowed tux. I like that certain

petulance full of confidence played by Ben Whishaw
just as I like Bel Rowley, his BBC producer,

played by Romola Garai, whose tailored columns
are dynamite in a bell jar. I get their reserve,

which I suffer, whether it comes from a British
ancestor who left me with the plainest surname

or whether I’d have come by indirectness anyway.
In 1950’s London Freddie traces the murder

of a debutante, and while it’s never equivalent
I know a little about trying to reconcile pain

with what you later learn. How obsession molts
and returns, the same idea shedding as it goes,

each time more glittering, so that at last the snake
is the spy in the nest you thought your own.

What do we owe memory? Freddie’s dead friend
haunts him, even as Hungary and the Suez

stain the reels. About getting the truth right
I’ve spent my life wanting answers: why one body’s

a message while another is silenced, what happens
after news that stays news grows cold. I thought

everything mattered. Nobody heard. I, too,
mistook the work’s salvo for salve.




Karen Rigby is the author of Chinoiserie (Ahsahta Press). She lives in Arizona.