A Visit from Queen Mary


A ruby flower brooch slipped into a handbag.

A perky Monet discretely smuggled

to her Daimler by a grumpy, sleep-deprived footman.

Dukes trembled before her droit du seigneur,

the military music that bullied all day

from her portable gramophone.

A centuries old oak cut down on her host’s estate

because she didn’t like its insolent attitude.

A lady-in-waiting peremptorily sacked

because her voice gave out

after reading aloud for seven hours.

Selfishness is the squawking toad

that is delivered on, then devours a silver plate.

A biographer who was invited to lunch

fiddled nervously with his collar

in the royal presence. After an hour’s talk

about the undying loyalty of dogs,

the careless grammar of the lower classes,

the beastliness of paper napkins,

he had a thunderclap epiphany:

fear was replaced by a boredom so ruthless

that it drained all colour from the room.


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