Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Foret Des Dames. Part 6

        A fountain stood

At the centre of a circular clearing,


Carved in marble, its fluted shaft

Crowned with a statue of Lady Luna

In skirt and sandals, hunting gear,

With her bow in her hand.  The water arched

From lion masks in the square base

Into a broad, nine‑sided pool

With a noise like anger.  The moon was full

And fading out in the very top

Of a brightening sky.


In trepidation

I stepped out into the pale arena.

It felt like tiers of invisible people

Were ranked around me, gazing down.

My head hurt.  I was cold and tired

And parched with thirst.


    I scanned the circle,

Knelt at the pool and bent to drink‑


Then spun round quickly, fearing to meet

Nose to hook nose the startling face

I'd seen in the water. 


         Nobody there,

But at a distance a loose‑limbed woman

Came strolling over the hummocky grass.


"Now let me guess:  the thing you saw

Had a beard like a spade and curly horns..."


The voice was mocking but not unkind.

She was fifty‑odd, at ease with herself,

Friendly, sensual, not like the ghosts,

Her greying auburn hair done up

With clips and combs, her brown face lean

And humorous.


  She shifted her weight

To her left hip and, legs apart,

Stood sizing me up, her hands thrust deep

In her jacket pockets.


I spoke my name

And stiffly, like an Englishman,

Held out a hand.


  She looked at it,

Then bared her big, irregular teeth

In a wide grin.  "Fuck off" she said,

"I know you, Grist‑ and you'd know me

If you'd just think back‑




"You seem surprised."


"You've changed."


      "I've aged."


She hammered home the final word

As though she were ending an argument.

"I used to be pretty; now I'm not.

It's ten years now."


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