Awful Rivalry: Eleventh Tattersby
The extraordinary freedom!
I refer to taking matters of despatch into one’s own hands.
I had been inclined, even I, to stick to rules, you know. Embarrassing
the name of Bevington not done.
(As though this were a thing of real concern.)
I bore the insults. Wavered, I tell you
On the brink of feeling
Titles, after all, must find each other out…
Here what feels to the guest like the clutch of a hand
Chilling his forearm with such freezing immediacy
He fears he has been done an injury
How at this moment he could wish, to share this insight with his colleagues!
Do you understand me! Roscoe shakes him and he notes
the arm not broken (shattered, one might dare suppose)
I’d taken her across to Paris, taken her over the sea
To Antwerp. We’d strolled their sodding cobbled streets, took Flemish snaps
Of architectural excrescences. It was cosy. We came across Tattersby.
Lunching at the flying club.
‘Oh,’ she’d said, ‘now you I’ve heard of. You had an awful rivalry with Anselm once.
This,’ she’d said, ‘is Anselm’s brother.’
Tattersby yawned a bit.
I recall her never showing the spark of interest
And all her talk had been of theatre
How she’d be an angel, now, being that her father
Had forbade her, in her first youth, going on the stage
‘How’—falsetto again, sing-song—‘Simon, pet, I’m curious…
Does one learn to pilot a plane?’
It was only some stunt I’d had in mind, taking off
Only hoping, perhaps, to buzz them, royally.
But homing in, it came to me…be a fine and fitting end
To our little ménage à misery.
But there you see, my friend
The true pilgrim’s progress of a deadly flirt
I don’t see it, the guest says
Ah, says Roscoe. You shall.
(2017, Stephanie Foster)