Home > Poetry > Garden Party Reprise
Kathleen Winter
Published: Wed Jul 1 2015
Art: Paul TheriaultEver New (detail), 2022, acrylic and found paper on scavenged wood
Garden Party Reprise

after E. M. W. Tillyard

The ladies wore eclipsing hats.
Familiar even to distress,
the epic strain, the brandy.
His garden was the Ne Plus Ultra,

its tale familiar even to distress,
that ignorance is bliss,
the Ne Plus Ultra,
if you like that sort of thing.

Ignorance is bliss
for the complacent visitor
who likes that sort of thing.
But what if you’re obsessed with class?

For the complacent visitor
sometimes becomes anxious about change—
obsessed with class,
begins to greet the waiters with suspicion.

Anxious about change,
the well-heeled garden party guest
greets waiters with suspicion,
wondering How long will the music last?

Well-heeled, the garden party guest
conceives the sharpest question he can ask:
How long will the music last?
A married woman lingers at the fruit plate.

The sharpest question he can ask
hangs for an instant in the air—
the lady lingers at the fruit plate, eyes
the only apple.

Hanging for an instant in the air,
familiar even to distress,
only the apple marries with
the epic strain, the brandy.

Kathleen Winter’s second book, I will not kick my friends, won the 2017 Elixir Poetry Prize. Her debut collection, Nostalgia for the Criminal Past, won the 2013 Texas Institute of Letters first book award. She was the fall 2015 Dobie Paisano Fellow, selected by the University of Texas at Austin and Texas Institute of Letters. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, The New Republic, The Yale Review, Prairie Schooner, and Gulf Coast. She lives in Sonoma County, California. (updated 4/2017)

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