- Far Short of Heaven
In Aunt Mary’s Parlor
Were they donated or all untimely plucked, Those faded peacock feathers blindly peri- Scoping from an erstwhile churn beswagged with pink Paper dog roses made by, yes, Aunt Mary.
And above the feathers: an antique painting, A still life from a calendar. “Everything But dates,” said Uncle Ev, who did the framing. Aunt Mary said some fireside days made her think
She could smell those crimson pears, fine Tryon grapes, Copper scuppernongs, half melon, fat black figs. Some early mornings she could as good as taste The white-flesh peach. By contrast a milk glass dish
On her sideboard held varicolored creekbed Pebbles, multishaped, washed smooth. Chocolate candies. How she admired a sly disguise (moth, snake, bird, Blossom . . . feathers imitating leaves or eyes).
“Any thing wants to make a fool of me, I’ll Meet halfway,” she liked to say, “but in the case Of mankind—preachers, lawyers, all that ilk— I watch ’em close. Too much mouth, too little class.”
She made a few exceptions: Helen Keller She thought a woman of great courage and skill, Five miles wiser than the mass of her fellows. But even her kind blue eyes were made of glass. [End Page 190]
Remarked Aristotle when he had just begun to toddle, “At the risk of sounding prophetic, I expect to become quite peripatetic.”
Cheops said, “Pre-ops Khufu wore a tutu.”
Paul Gauguin enfin went Marquesan. It did not take much persuasion.
Elbridge Gerry must have found it scary being caricatured by Gilbert Stuart.
George Ellery Hale often went beyond the pale (egged on by an elf, who was surely himself). “I suffer,” he said, “from Americanitis.” That’s how he enlightened us.
David Hockney painted Procne post-malign, pre-passerine. [End Page 191]
Edwin Henry Landseer considered animals quite dear. He found even mice nice.
Captain William Lynch believed that in a pinch each law of man and God demands being taken into one’s own hands. That’s why a certain stench attends the name of William Lynch.
August Ferdinand Möbius suffered all manner of phobias: He was certain to lose his grip if someone said, “Möbius! Strip!”
Elisha Graves Otis gave notice that he could not bear to climb another stair. A short time later: The Elevator.
Pope Pius Eleven fell far short of heaven, having signed a treaty with Benito Mussolini.
Pope Pius Twelve was able to shelve his conscience and snooze through the plight of the Jews. [End Page 192]
Ed Minus, a regular contributor, has published poetry in the New Republic, the New England Review, Jacaranda, Natural Bridge, and Hawk & Whippoorwill.