A CRUISE FARE: THE VIEUX MADAME, 84
She held on to the shorter side of her skirt,
a Creole form of rainbow radiance raw on rays,
and took the proffered hand with a shy smile.
Her descent is uneventful save for all the eyes
riveted on her, the sole fare from an island shore
where fishermen glean enmeshed smelt
on day-long-heaved nets hitched to catamarans
docking light with empty baskets from a sea
that is now without fish or even fishermen.
To banter from ferry passengers tendered
ashore from cruising ocean liners, she mutters:
En Français, s’il vous plait. Non parle Anglais.
The boatswain gently cautions her to mind
the gangplank shuffle: Regardez ca!
On parle de vous, Madame.
Amused, she responds : Pourquoi pas ?
En fin, a quatre-vingts, gens remarquez!
They saw her looking away into that vast sea,
a half-smile cancelling a frown on her face,
quite like wishing away an unwanted memory.
Parlez-moi de votre voyage, mon cher,
the proffered hand asks past the gangplank.
En Anglais, mon ami: Et ees a long journée,
she says, pointing her cane rapier-like
to some lost horizon. Un voyage solitaire.
She laughs weakly, whispering:
Alors, Monsieur, a la prochaine. Bon chance!
She pulls her wind-blown skirt down and giggles.
--- Albert B. Casuga