The Duke owned both banks. The pleasure steamer,
stuttering, washed his clay into the current,
older than property. His oak woods moved
past us into dusk. We disembarked and
strolled between lascivious, attic blooms
to where, before the Great Hall, his Grace
had let the play be set. Like smoke on summers’
nights, the plot unwound down the lawn’s gentle slope.
The crossed, cross lovers mazed each other
but we knew how it all would end neatly –
the affluent young, loyal artisans,
Theseus dispensing Tory patronage.
What many hands might dissipate, his held.
Fays, in all but pitch-black, blessed with music
bridal beds, ducal woods – fenced, burgeoning –
and ourselves in the loud and flighty dark.
He rang for a field-glass to focus, out
in the wintry park, on a shimmering
– pit subsidence filled overnight with rain.
Under tumbled acres four men were dying.
They moaned in the stifling darkness – their
rescuers muffled, far away as light.