I am a hireling; garden ornament, fount
of wisdom, morose and pensive resident.
They bring me remnants from their banquets:
roasted partridge; squabs from the dovecote –
small specimens to delight my palate –
but I feel for the birds! I would have birds
singing and nesting in my borrowed beard!
I’ve discarded my trinkets for the silver
of birches, the gold of the sunflower.
And how I adore the humble splendour
of my thatched dwelling, with walls of ochre,
where I may sit or pace at any hour;
my generous and roughly-tailored gown
conceals the contours of my woman’s form.
They have me grow my nails, my hair, abstain
from ablutions; guests will sometimes deign
to come near, get a whiff of me! I remain
aloof and secretly I bathe at night in rain,
permit myself odours of roses, jasmine.
I suffer their stares as they point at me,
as if I’m an ape or a bird in the aviary.
Even in the happy spring, I must incline
my head, as the snowdrops do, while I roam
the lawns. My dull theatre is their diversion.
And so I give them ground-gazing, heaven-
gazing. I sip the dew and eye the moon.
They seek my counsel so I scratch on leaves
like the Sybil; confound them wisely.
With peacocks and peonies I am at home!
Exquisite hours are mine to dream alone.
Thus gladly do I feign a melancholy mien
‘solitary sire’ in my diminutive domain.
And in truth I am a merry gentlewoman:
for I have fashioned a pen from a feather –
all manner of marvels set my quill a-quiver!
©2018 Penny Hope