David Bircumshaw


It was shadowy in the Palace and humid with rumour. As the shades gossiped
beneath the heat-wave, the Emperor secluded Ourself to chambers of dry
uninvolvement. 'Pshish', 'Pshaow', the Grand Vizier's adjutants loyally
instructed the weather and explanations gathered to be told. It was

this you see and that, so now you understand. The Court Ladies checked
their midriffs, still size twelve exhaled in their minds, thus relief clusters
like breaths on a window. I kept my station at the soup, an entree,

this night so it had been said. Broccoli, quatrains, stilton, je ne sais quoi,
old tyres, parmesan, the strained bodies of delicate tomatoes, wild
parsley and a whiff of etymology, remaindered speeches and
species, sinking in the puns. I mixed them all, while pretending

not to be there. Not there.