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A Smart Curtsy

Princess Tesgid of the Kingdom of Alsacious was universally loved by her subjects. And how genuine it was. Their wall-hangings were images of her. Their works of calligraphy all memorialized her finest sayings. They used her name so much that the air became more accustomed to that series of vocal vibrations and you could hear it repeating against the clouds and mountains. And rightfully so, she wrote very good poetry about the plight of her citizen's poverty and was incredibly sympathetic toward them all.

In her most recent anthology So Many Fingers Doth Dwindle and Chime, she wrote:

When I see the urchin's knees,
shuffling through the clover patch,
their socks let go miles past,
their gloves reek as an ostrich gizzard
and their eyes, oh,
now their eyes do still give a smart curtsy.

While you or I might neglect to sense the nuances of these words, I assure you that this was a terribly tragic stanza for the Princess and the message received by the street folk was: we have been coarsely mocked. In the ruling society, "a smart curtsy" would generally be regarded as a polite dip of the head with an underlying bouquet of wonderment. However, a divergent meaning had sprung from the darker slums and shipyard embankments which twisted the term "a smart curtsy" to describe the motion of beheading a child infected by the parasitic spirit of a deceased feral cat.

What's more, the clover patch reference was unmistakable! That was up Swollery's Cliff, the field where those cats had been petrified into an upright column of maple sap. How dare this Princess rail against the totems. Be she in league with the cats now?

The city stirred, many ill with worry of riots and looting, others retreating to quiet places where they could internalize the poems under the soft light of the moon and the warm pyres of freshly massacred cats. All were scraping that third line for meaning. Where did the socks let go? Discovering the exact location could possibly vindicate the Princess, particularly if it were at the national Cemetary of the Beloved. Or better yet, the dessert counter at Stage and Svenson's. That would be quite hilarious actually!

The Princess was aloof from all this, working at home on upgrading her word processing software which insisted that it needed Disk 3 when she was sure that very disk was in the slot right now!

by why the lucky stiff

february 16, 2006