Was Lumiere my father, or the cook?
And where have all my siblings run off to?
I never knew their names. I want to look
back at the years and know I never knew—
For instance, Mother told me nothing then
but, “Pish-posh, in the suds, you broken cup!”
She was too old to be a mothering-hen
teapot, but how she sang of cleaning up!
With adult love, I watched the aging Belle,
who lived much longer than our king, The Beast,
and now they’re gone, all gone, and I can tell
all, if I hated them—their lies, at least.
When Belle dispelled our immortality,
we felt the two-ness of reality.
It’s crossed my mind that it was Stockholm Syndrome.
That moment in the woods, those wolves around,
I could have let the “monster” die, left, been home,
but saw his weird bulk frozen to the ground
as past, my life caught in that frosty breath—
What would be left for me but the same words,
provincial slipping into social death,
or brooding with the throbbing wave-like herds?
What would a kiss against that wooly face,
the horns, blue eyes, adventure in the somewhere
amount to, feel like? Then it came, a trace
of danger in the intellect said, “Come here.”
It was love all along, not make believe.
Papa, Gaston, we come just as we leave.
The busiest sort of architect made this
palatial masterpiece, the way the light
soaks through the floral windows, what joy, what bliss!
awash in Bach-like grand baroque delight,
and never once do we presume to guess
how we have lingered through the centuries
in isolation, imbibing nonetheless
the benefits of structuring with ease.
But listen, Lumiere, my foe, mon frère,
tradition is our past, our destiny,
and why I’m English, why you’re laissez-faire,
why a pendulum was where my heart should be—
We must obey the master’s wishes, lest
we find we are no better than the rest.
It all unravels...