No 100 - 1985
My little people own my life, they call
my tune. They strut about on legs as fine
as pretzel sticks, bowing and doffing
their tri-cornered hats with feathers in.
Listen to the crackle of their cuffs!
Diamonds wink in waistcoats of brocade
and suits of pastel watered silk.
They drape themselves in Louis Quatorze chairs,
round a table a lake, and play bezique.
White gloved hands manipulate tiny cards
with animal heads: lion, elephant, bear, gazelle.
They gamble from pillars of golden coins
and with glee they placed their stakes,
risking enemies, ladies and fortunes.
And here come their mates…rustle, rustle,
say the taffeta and silk hooped skirts.
Ringlets ripple on ivory necks; furbelows
and flounces bounce. How elegant, how charming,
how urbane! Each lady attends her escort’s chair.
She flutters a fan and heavy lashes and
her eyes burn bright with belladonna drops.
After codille they dance a quadrille.
I love to see their capering; to watch them win
and lose, stamping high-heeled satin feet,
taking snuff and brandishing silver-topped canes.
How they rule my room with their squeals
and squeaks, and the tinsel of their chatter.
But hush, I hear heavy steps on the stairs.
‘Away you go, little friends, be quick.’
Dismayed they crowd and tumble in my cupboard,
whalebones and dignity objecting. I answer the bell
and notice upturned footstool, tortoiseshell fan,
fallen combs and half-filled glasses of ratafie.
I put my foot against the door. ‘No, I’m sorry,
you can’t come in, I’m in bed and don’t feel well’.
I slam the door like a coffin lid, but my heart
is thumping like the footsteps going down stairs.
Clouds pass across the sun. I run to the cupboard
scared that no one will be lurking in my shoes.
But there they are, and in terrible disorder…
‘Now girls and boys, come out and play’. Gently
I lift them after their ordeal. They tremble and jostle.
I swish shut the curtains, light the sconces
and my room grows bright again; the spectres stay away.
A nymph starts to play the harpsichord keys
and the tinkle of its music activates the beaux
who prance and flirt; their ladies blush and simper.
And I look on . . . I am God, in miniature, having fun
but my candlelit world is shrinking, shrinking.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
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- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
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- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The