The Afternoon of No Counsel


Her care finally asleep,

the nurse, drowsy herself,

looked out on the orchard,

the plum trees not so full

as the spring flowering

had promised.


                            The butcher

woke from his dreamy nap

uneasy to feel so eager

for the night.


                         The minister

paused to reconsider

before he risked saying

he had no advice to offer

about his own forebodings

about the banquet guests.


The tax collector’s daughter

failed to bully her playmates

into wading across the stream

and wandering farther than ever

into the forest.


                            The one charged

with recalling events

with the most telling words

knew his writing must ignore

nearly all that happened.


The ruler deliberated

asking his son’s tutor

what incidents from Plutarch

would make fitting murals

for his tomb.


                        The strangers

who knocked at the merchant’s door

spoke another language

but, ignoring his suspicious eyes,

made their needs clear

with their open hands.


A mother had set aside

a moment to comfort herself

by pulling her shawl tight

and focusing on how much

she missed her daughter.

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