by Theodora Goss
Death, playing a mandolin,
asked when I would begin
to join, with Hope and Love, the mad pavane.
They turned in velvet tails,
while antiquated veils
fluttered like wisps of peacock-colored lawn.
I did a pirouette.
Death, in ample jet,
kissed me her hand and smiled indulgently.
I crossed the checkered floor
clutching a battledore
as Art and War were taking toast and tea.
The pillars of that hall,
of quarried marble all,
did nothing but eternally ascend,
a luminescent mist
the hue of amethyst
concealing any place where they might end.
I flung a window wide,
hoping to gaze outside,
and watched a painted landscape crack and flake,
then turned back to the room
where Beauty, with a broom,
was sweeping up the final crumbs of cake.
I leaned upon the wall,
observing the crazed ball,
and saw the grinning figures bow and spin,
then felt myself advance
to join the gruesome dance,
while Death looked on and played a mandolin.
(The image is Valse Macabre by Gustav-Adolf Mossa.)