The Impresario (part six)
O, jealousy! Regalus in penance catches Pierre by the sleeve
For amid a burst of cries and laughter none had heard
The missile strike. Silent Tortu from errands of his own
Pads near to Regalus with a bleeding face
Pierre’s hand closes over hers, avec tendresse
“Boniface!” The impresario with Poupée clinging to his neck
Steps between them. “You are an unharmonious guest.
And as your aim is false, you must try another song.”
“Monsieur.” The troubadour bows. “You will not have it thought
you conspire with assassins. Please. Charity is a holy act, no doubt.
Allow them all to know what you have done.”
He turns and eyes Pierre, as do the others.
“My master,” answers he. “I was tasked with spotting marks;
that the priest, by halving his labor, might double his purse.
Yea, the sin beladen soul will find expression
in familiar habit, hesitation;
the guilty heart will speak the chosen phrase.
Why might not I, a man of worth, bestow false consolation?
It is a holy act, no doubt, to say: I know thee for a fornicator.
And you, madame, have lusted in your heart.
Dressed was I in robes of black, whispering my way
Midst pilgrims, blanching cheeks.
Perhaps I had been tardy, for they say
’Tis a wise man knows himself…it was a lady
Discovered me my gift—she had made to faint
True, friends, I aver myself a villain, but not yet was I embittered
Not yet schooled in prison…I caught her in my arms
Contrite. Ah! But she played a ruse. When close to my ear
Whispered in her turn, “Good monsieur l’abbé, I pray thee
Shrive me here. I give you gold for your pains.”
Then merrily, for willingly enough, I did absolve her,
Went she on her way.”
A shaft of sun casts brilliancy upon a coat of arms above
The gated lane
The dawn has come
The V in virtus newly forged in flame
(2017, Stephanie Foster)