This many times have I dined with the Factor ///////,
thus often with Stecher /, thus with my Lords //////.
(I am drawn to the fishes. And to citrons—sugared,
like frost over gem stones.)
In trade for my portraits, I have taken
a branch of white coral, a cedarwood rosary, an ounce
of good ultramarine. And a great fish scale
that gauzes the day through its intricate lens.
This many times have mummers amused me ////.
Fourteen stuivers, to date, for raisins. Two for a brush.
One for a buffalo horn. Twenty florins in all
for firewood, flax, one elk's hoof, one parrot cage.
In December, four florins—gold—for a little baboon
who nods like Erasmus when darkness descends.
There is solace, I find, in accountancy,
the prudent, resonant thrift of an evening's meal
preserved in a slant mark, like the solace I feel
with needle and ink, Time's cantering beast
furred for eternity by a burin's bite.
To Johann, one Passion. To the surgeon
and house servant, each, a Life of Our Lady.
To Konrad, in service of the Emperor's daughter,
one Melancholy, three Marys, a Eustace, a Nemesis,
a Jerome in His Cell. (Arranged on a wall,
these gifts might mirror our human progression,
as the Great Procession of Our Lady's Assumption —/—
mirrored our ranks, butcher to saint.)
This many times has a fever consumed me /////.
I have dined again // with my Lords.
At the Feast of Our Lady's Assumption, just after
Craftsmen in the Great Procession, but before Prophets
and an armored Saint George, came a crowd of widows
garbed in white linen, accounting for losses amongst us.
Silent, in step, they seemed not shape but vacancy,
alit between mason and seamstress, foot soldier and clerk.
They seemed the space an etch mark frees,
the empty trough that shape awaits.
Grand day, carmine and boot-black and the swirling
world. And those stately widows
defining our borders? These times
did their passing enfold me ///////////////////////////////.