tries to pry open the shutters, mutters, flutters, sprays French
violets onto their featherbed. See how she feigns sleep on the sofa
when he pulls at her slippers. See how she keeps her legs crossed
so he cannot enter her. The man blames the poor in the projects
next door. Her ankles are blue with bruises.
The naturally dark and winsome architect with cleft
chin longs for little blond Dovey with her dewy amber eyes, dancing
pheromones, and filigreed fingers crowded with precious stones.
She often reads Rilke aloud. Stones don't talk, she confides to
the architect, on a spree of impulse.
The spire shall be taller than the Bishop's, the husband
demands. Spare no expense, he commands. Cook will roast swans till
tender with honey and mint and all will be well. His wife's tiny
belly will swell with little otiose men and the tower will chime
their favorite song.
The architect will spare no sense. He will create
a ladder to curve like a swan's neck bending into the sea. There
will be a yellow gondola at the bottom of the ladder, a gondola
to bear them to Tuvalu.
What is their favorite song? The architect wonders
as he adds nutmeg to his lentil soup. His daughter's gosling is
honking in the outhouse. The child is playing Brahms on her viola.
What is their favorite song? Strains of The Flying Dutchman
throb through his veins, in vain. How can he possibly find a voice
of his own? He will propose love to Dovey on his knees, just as
his mother proposed his conception to the architect's father. He
will find his own song and sing it, by Jove.
The architect plays with a cow bone moist with soup.
He thrusts his tongue in the bone's hole to draw the white marrow
out of its home. He sucks, wondering what will be their favorite
song, the duet of the architect and his bird when she is his. Something
that sounds like daffodils, or a song to bring out the color of
her eyes? See the
pyramids along the Nile?
The jester is hiding in the clothes closet of the
architect's daughter. Listening to the yearnings of the sensuous
viola, he almost forgets his mission. Espionage is not his favorite
pastime by a long shot – more tasteful by far to twirl about
on one's fingers and amuse, then lie in a flowerbed gazing at galaxies.
His goose will be cooked if he doesn't return with evidence that
the otiose man is right. The man must be right.
Viola stops moaning and the child leaves the room.
Our jester wishes he were anywhere and anyone else and had the courage
to do and be other than.
As the architect and his daughter relish soup with
horseradish, the jester sneaks into the drafting room. If you were
there, you might wonder why the bells in his hat don't alarm. One
could explain that when he's dejected, the bells are dull. On the
other hand, did anyone say he wears a hat?
There are two models on the table: one of a scimitar
atop a tower; the other, the scimitar's mirror image as a ladder
curving down to the sea. One is a war, the other a poem. The jester
enters the poem and escapes. He thinks at last longing here I go
to Tuvalu, into her arms I shall row.
When the architect returns to his table, he will
note the disappearance of the yellow boat. He will scratch his head
and wonder if he'd moved the gondola, with thought or without, maybe
into a cove to protect it from winds. That would've been sensible,
but never mind. He will create another gondola. Easy come, easy
The otiose man Herbert is in a rage. He has awakened
with another red mole on his nose and no jester to proffer evidence
of treachery. He throws a tantrum at the cat.
Little Dovey is preparing Tuvaluan toast with pureed
dates and aged chevre from Corfu. The scents vibrate attractively
in Herbert's invaded nose. He does not want to think of treachery
when the early sun through the shutters alights on her hair; vaguely
wonders why his instinct is sharpening the blood-drenched razor
he holds in his hand.
You have read Shakespeare and Sophocles (et al.) and
imagine that Herbert will kill the architect or at least Dovey;
or Dovey will kill Herbert in self-defense. In truth, you would
prefer the architect to rescue Dovey in time, in good and right
time, your local time zone time, not a thraneen of second too soon
or too late. Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty walk in your sleep.
So you envision the architect and his Dovey entering the poem and
You have always conjured yourself as either the architect
or Dovey, rescued by the architect.
To be expected the knots are fast and the delicate
gondola whirls madly in the robust winds of the Pacific. Dovey clings
to the side of the boat, the heroic little boat, without the architect.
In a moment of unaware self-insight, he chose war and money, pleading
The next moments are enigmatic to the populace. No
one claims to have noticed the passing of these moments during birthday
dinners, wine tastings, stock market undulations, abrupt and slow
deaths, and always romantic catastrophes. Rumor claims that Rigoletto
appeared to take the lady from the ocean just as her being was expiring.
On Funafuti, the capitol isle of the isles of Tuvalu,
the jester and his lady have made their home a happy ending without
As usual, grandmother complains of sheep. You know
how she gets. Too much Verdi.