Questions about the timing
intruded. The last client
before dawn was seen at a certain
distance. Then they brought up
the whole other issue of belonging.
Seems we weren’t welcome despite
having occupied Hollyhock House
for generations upon generations.
Then a more remote client raised “issues”
closer to one, like a warm breeze from the cape,
seen to oscillate in an argument—
vexed particles. The captain was really sad
about that one. He came selling articles
door to door, from time to time. A personage
much beloved and little thought of.
He’d bought his first perimeter
with a baby tooth at the age of six.
Afterwards, when they asked him how he felt
about it, he was evasive, but in a way
that charmed every hearer. Dogs knew him
as a faithful friend, and tinkers
always had a stray dam for him.
Growing up lively in the house,
his ears soon pierced its roof.
At sixteen he attended his first dance,
met the charming Miss Letty.
There was another client, elusive,
predatory, veering to elvish embroilment
when the territories were carved up at last.
The maid sent to say they could come down
if a clean breast were to be made of it.
As happened, that very evening, as I and others
can attest. The captain looked spiffy in his garb.
Rubies lurked in beads of lamplight, the joint
was carved and tears washed down with wine
whose bitter taste endures to this day.

This Issue

September 23, 2004