Tea With Anushka
(revised for me new book):
I was summoned to tea with Anushka,
She haunts antiquarian bookshops
Liberating volumes of art,
Philosophy, music, poetry
From dusty shelves
To stock her private library.
She gets found out
Police are called
An anonymous van dispatched
And she has shelves to fill… yet again.
So she takes a cab to any town
Where she’s not known
And browses antique shops for curios
And replacement culture, philosophy,
A rusting sign, “L’Hermitage”
Hangs loose on the wall
Of the basement flat she calls her dacha.
Hinting at a Romanov ancestry
She tries to shroud in mystery.
I indulged the conceit
With a gift of vodka,
A rubber glove shook my hand,
Soapy water splashed my cuff.
Anushka moaned, “It’s the cleaner’s day off.”
And asked what I thought of her shiny bust –
Thomas Paine on the new vitrine?
And did I mind popping to the corner Spar
For tea bags, milk, Petit Fours
And put them on her tab?
I smiled, “Leave it all to me,”
And cleared her slate… yet again.
We drank Darjeeling from bone-china cups
Spread Laughing Cow cheese triangles
On Borodinsky bread
With sterling silver butter knives
And polished off the fancies
On the doilied Lazy Susan.
“Perhaps a cigarette?”
She offered her next-to-next-to-last Sobranie
Lit it reverently from a candle
Flickering on a repro gilt torchère.
Smoke haloed her grey-golden hair
Her face shone, evoking,
Rublov’s Icon of the Trinity.
An anonymous van nosed the street… yet again.
Urgent knocking broke the spell.
Two frozen tears loosed from
‘Nushka’s ‘natural look’ lashes.
I reached to brush the memories
Trickling her cheek.