At the Word Party

Lady Riposte and Lady Eschew sip mimosas
as they parade around the drawing room
hoping to catch the eye of the Duke of Obfuscation,
but the duke is chasing after Miss Crepuscular,
who looks a bit shady to me.
Mr. Inveigle stands out on the balcony,
peering into the bright room,
wondering whether Admiral Antediluvian
will play bridge tonight, and, if so,
how he can maneuver his way into the game.
The serving girls are pretty things --
the host, Earl Pomposity, makes sure of that
despite Lady Termagant's bitter protests --
he'd like to unbutton Portly later,
see if she has an extra syllable tucked away.
Back in the kitchen, Mrs. Chubby labors
over a triple layer speech cake
but the adverbs and prepositions are burnt,
and she blames young Eyebrow
who should have been raised better.
It's the usual affair, noisy and crowded.
I was glad to see my Aunt Myopic,
but I miss the rest of our family,
the ones who never come:
Gray and Old and Dark and Long.
I should have stayed home with Small,
the two of us reading our books
on either side of the fireplace,
not needing to speak.

(First published in the Atlanta Review)