Either you know the password or you don’t;
Guessing is useless, guesses get you nowhere.
Sands of the desert! And God knows the language
Is hard enough to speak, let alone write.
When I approached the grille in the plate glass
The shy Jamaican shook her smiling head.
“Sorry, but that is last week’s word,” she said.
Once or twice I was privy to the secret,
But not for long; and again there were knots
Of snake-haired girls whispering in the shadows
At the farther end of the classroom corridor.
In the financial district I looked down
From the visitors’ gallery at the war
And camaraderie of the market floor.
At the theatre we often took a box
(“Steering clear of infection,” said my mother).
Yes, champagne was provided for the coterie,
But I sat soberly alongside, watching
The golden apples fly from hand to hand
As ingénue Russian princesses played
In the walled garden where the pacts were made.
Impossible, of course, to speak with nabobs
Or reclusive grandees holed up in palaces;
From them belonging is part of genetics.
Acquiescence is looked for, eyes on the ground.
Just follow the trail of elephant dung
Along yesterday’s ceremonial way
While golden boys and girls go out to play.