I said, ‘This is a boat and you three are the Triple Empresses of China, and you share the Crown,’ which was a lamp shade hanging from the ceiling, three silken layers in pink,’ but you must work together as Triple Hearts and sail the boat over the wide ocean of forever…’ at which point one of them decided to usurp the throne and rule alone, leaving a deep crimson mark on one of her ‘sister’s’ neck. In my hasty romp into the slurry of the imaginative, I had forgotten how dangerous, visceral and brutish some children can be, outside the alloted uniformed institutions in which they learn the ropes, whose task it is to channel their raging desire to rule the Realm of China, or Anywheresville, and rule alone, (with underlings). When the crying was done, I observed the lovely girl of nine who had ascended thus to the Heavenly Heights of Sole Rulership; twinkling narrow eyes; a sharp and quick mouth; hair just right, a bit Joan at Orleans; a face made for the sudden thrusts of rulership, and the spread of an bloated empire. She’s probably asleep now, under her Cinderella duvet cover, and the night light with stars and swords and shifting daggers revolving harmoniously around the shadowed ceiling.

POEM

You’ve got to give it up for culverts.
Their science of evasion,
of foreknowing,vain,
in heaving movement
and volume control, on chilled October evenings
when the yobbo waters round here purr and vent,
mutter, mute, gang up, swell, light-evasive.
Forecasts’ guesswork’s vapid.
Any flood worth its salt looks out for culverts.

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