Meddlesome: Fourth Allied Forces

Posted by ractrose on 4 Jan 2021 in Art, Poems

Pastel and pencil drawing of sad-looking armchair




The Folly

Allied Forces







Into a third hand slaps the baton

The host takes over an appointment of Fiona’s

Her noble aim to steer some entrepreneurial matrons

clear of ghoulish error

‘Error’ putting it kindly, he would have said himself

Of prying baldly into tragedy…more so, quite plausibly

for the sheer meddlesome titillation, the slumming through private lives

than for money

She calls herself Mrs. Balintrey, and is training a sister-in-law

and a neighbour

and has collected twenty from her circle

to be educated by an ‘authentic seer’

‘You’ll be the only gentleman in the room’ his hostess tells him

He seizes an uncouth advantage his profession affords

‘You are a widow.’

‘Oh, yes! No doubt, with your eye, the presence of Hamish is

…quite…’ She waves hands to encompass her sitting parlour,

strongly featuring a depressed armchair…

‘Indeed.’ He spares her the search for words. ‘Hamish was ever

your quiet supporter.’

This (reliable thing to say) touches the note.

She dabs, she beams, and begins to explain—

How the quest became her own. ‘They carry it inside themselves.

Shell shock, dear. The horrors of war. Men can’t bear…

To show themselves weak before their wives. Why we have so many of these…’

Hushed whisper. ‘Suicides.’

Shocking. He would like to consult with Hamish…but the sagging

seat and shining armrests say what they have said before

He is urged not to rise as the guests file in.

License again. ‘I shall begin with an anecdote, as demonstrating how

these matters affect high as well as low. The chemical plant…

You will recall, in Northumberland, whose director

Was of course Lord Atherleigh…’

A lovely audience member now offers exactly what this pause demands.

‘Oh, you don’t mean to say…not an accident?’

To her left she turns, and says to a friend, in a voice for the room’s benefit

‘Any wonder! That woman…the little foreign mannequin…

She took his son and vanished!’





Pastel and ink drawing of face behind thornsSnares
















(2021, Stephanie Foster)




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