Tableaux


In the museum I leaned forward
for a better look at our parlor–
preserved just as we had left it,
or almost. The girl's needlepoint
they had hung in a frame down the hall
and a bonnet my wife wore on shipboard
for some reason was placed
on a mannikin dressed all in black.
But amazing–how vivid the scene–
with rocking chairs ready to rock
and tea service laid out, and books
brought from England stacked neatly.
On top was the same text I left off,
Paradise Lost, open, I see,
to the ninth book. Leaning close,
over the rope, I conclude that Satan
is still falling from heaven–
No more shall he sit and partake
of chummy discourse with God
or enjoy the rural repast served
up above. Just then the guard appears,
with her extreme dispproval. "Sir!"
she exclaims, "You set off the alarm,
Step back! Step back!" From my own
parlor, how dare she! I have lost
home and birthright, have been roped off
from my own hearth. Damn her!
Then we stroll down the hall, past
the Aboriginal family standing and gazing
aghast and bereft at their cave as it was
eons ago, their hands outspread
like abandoned gloves on the stone.


David Ray, Kangaroo Paws, Thomas Jefferson University Press, 1994..