Oh, yes the chariots were everywhere that summer.
Running the wide streets and kicking up dust.
No rain for weeks. That’s what we all said. No rain.
In drawing rooms. In parlours. At the card table
in The Dowager’s Palace, which was just some rooms
she kept at the hotel. Oh, the last days of Empire
when no one quite wants to go home. So dry! All the trees rattling
when the wind blows from the desert. Like bones, she’d say.
Like a dance hall full of skeletons. We played bridge
at the end of the Empire. The bowls were always full of almonds.
Fields and fields of almonds for us to dip our hands into
and take. Everything growing somewhere. Everything ours.
I am so bored, somebody would say. So bored.
Rattle. Rattle of the ring in the bridge mix. Rattle of leaves outside.
Once a red bird sat at the window and we all tried to name it,
when we knew full well it was a cardinal.
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