Matthea Harvey

The Gem is on Page Sixty-Four

Ahem said the guards when anyone lingered too long

With their nose in a posy & then came the stuttered

Explanation was required if one seemed to be admiring

Anything could provoke a ticket even a certain glazing

Of the eye that seemed to signify some secret rapture

How the rupture between looking & looking had happened

Was a mystery (perhaps there had once been a sallow queen)

But it was best to wear dark sunglasses & mutter what a waste

Of marble when in the proximity of beauty even if it was

Necessary acts of loveliness such as trimming the olive trees

Were scheduled for Non-Moon nights so the silvery branches

In piles around the ladders wouldn’t have any added

Attraction between young men & women was now a case

Of smuggled petticoats & plain brown cakes that had

Icing on the inside & in the schoolyard children traded

Beauty Cards listing what page & book to look in for something

Scandalous things had happened in a town up north it was

Rumored that all the pretty girls had pranced down the cobbled

Hill holding gold picture frames around their faces & a man

With a cane began surreptitiously tracing where the sun was

Hitting the stones & then the mayor whispered that line  from 

Shakespeare into his wife’s ear & she looked momentarily

Sentimental outbreaks were not uncommon & there were crews

Trained in containment but they could never predict the next

One day they’d come upon a soda fountain each customer looking

At his or her fizzy drink with an expression of absolute bliss

Or two boys in a basement in ecstasy over something imaginary

Which couldn’t be taken away & poured down the sink



“The Gem is on Page Sixty-Four” is reprinted from Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form, (Alice