Saturday, March 1, 2014

Close Your Eyes And Think Of England

You said,
"stay in the compound,
mind the babies,"
but the babies grew while you were out in the cane fields.
Now they roll those laughing bones
and speak the local dialect,
distrusting the gendarmes like natives.

"What about the girls?' you might ask,
if you were ever here to ask.
That is the girls.
In the afternoon, they walk barefoot and hatless,
with a pack of stray dogs trailing behind,
hoping for a bit of biscuit.
The dogs are brown,
the girls are brown,
and neither have ever been to England.

Reach for me in the night; pretend I'm a receipt.
Drop your suspenders off your shoulders like a coquette,
while I close my eyes, thinking of the fox hunt
with me as the fox,
but this time
with a cane knife beneath my petticoats.
I've been in the trash again, yes I have.
Better strangle me now.
Howl, man-hound, though you never had the scent.

The household budget allowed for two Arabians.
Our oldest and I go riding,
but not side saddle. 
We are as wild as Indians, painted like Zulus,
shrieking in island French, 
our cheeks rouged with fresh chicken blood we get from the cook.

You complain about the fare every night,
addressing us as if we were the candlesticks,
blustering about everything being too spicy.
The girls and I,
we doctor our dinner until we hallucinate,
just to be able to bear it.

Still, how bold you are, how genuinely manly,
coming here and conducting a successful business
in this sweltering mosquito hell
where the women cast spells
and the men are weak and lazy.
How amazing what you manage to accomplish
wearing a sturdy wool suit
in this place where you couldn't claim to truly know
anyone at all.
______

for Fireblossom Friday, featuring the art of W.T. Benda.

"Close your eyes and think of England." Queen Victoria's famous advice to English ladies being depended upon to produce more population for the Empire.

11 comments:

Cloudia said...

Colonial echoes


Aloha

TexWisGirl said...

oy!

Kerry O'Connor said...

Fabulous narrative. You have conjured an age of empire, with its strong-willed women and lazy-ass men, and all the sweat and spoil of living in a foreign land.

hedgewitch said...

You know I love your historical fancies, Shay, and your sallies against the sillies of the Empire, whether arctic or tropical--here you have outdone yourself, taking it into then past satire into something bright and cold, full of that voodoo that only comes from being kept down just one time too many. I love the wild riders and their paint, their hallucinations that make it all more real, and the final lines that say it all and cut away the pretension and the pose along with the poseur. Just excellent, from beginning to end, (or should I say, top to bottom?)

Mama Zen said...

"Reach for me in the night; pretend I'm a receipt."

I adore that.

Hannah said...

You're a trove of excellent characters and twisting plot. :)

Thanks for the challenge!

hedgewitch said...

PS I thought I liked the zebra rider best, but now i think this is my favorite.

Sioux said...

Shay--Would you consider writing a history of the world book?

Each historical bit could be told in poetic form.

Think about it...

grapeling said...

I get a sense of Conrad's Heart of Darkness turned inside out and moved over two universes. Hey! You used the image too. MZ picked my favorite line too

Kenia Cris said...

have I ever mentioned how much I'd like to listen to these stories all in your voice? You're a powerful storyteller, Shay. I never leave it here without a smiler and butterflies.

<3

edenhills said...

What an amazing story you've told. It's magical and sad and so accurate all rolled into amazing.