Not The Bathing Tank At Madras: A Romance

by Norman Dubie

Norman Dubie

The morning's mail rises up the stairwell
with its simple breakfast; postage from Gambia
rivaling the khaki toast and jam, pomegranate
for importance both of paint
and shrinking perspective. The orchid goes
nervous in its stringy waist
for the master does not answer
Gertie's repeated knocking. Her husband

rests a wooden ladder
against the evidence of black glass;
making a mask
with his large hands against the new sun,
he peers into the locked room
tapping on the window with an appropriate

rhythm that reminds him
of haying bells. He then begins his descent
wondering if with old Harold dead
will the younger master
leave him to starve
out among the rocks of a yawning heath.

His good foot, which is only middling today,
is testing the air
for a ladder rung or the untimely lawn
while he begins to fall
toward a railing of iron lilies and javelins.

The orchid on its pewter tray
screams waking old Harold
who farts so loudly
that Gertie begins to laugh and cry
from her hallway,
now greeting the unlikely Lord
who opens the door to his cool dark tank
as if it were a solemn medieval lake.

Last updated August 11, 2015