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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.

© Copyright David Selzer

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