The Sleeping Gypsy
Henri Rouseeau, 1897
In the heat of her dream, she hears
The iron kettle boiling, its scuttle and hum
As hurried as hoofbeats across a plain.
She drops in two guinea hens. Dancing
In a ring round her skirts, the children
Cheer, “Auntie, the English song!” Lifting
Her lute, she sings of the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumping over the moon. How the little
Ones hoot when the dish runs away
With the spoon. Ah, spoon—an uncloaked
Lute, it waits to be strummed. The temptation of London, of Paris,
Of bumping along in the carriage with M. Philippe
In his top hat and greatcoat to visit
The peacocks, turquoise and gold and green, each
Roaming the Bois de Boulogne with one hundred eyes.
She sleeps in the desert, under a smiling full moon
That shines in the teal night. Quiet behind her,
A lion stands, tail erect, having sniffed
At her onyx flesh, at the ribbony stripes
His color-blindness darkens on her muslin dress,
All rainbow hues. She is lost in a dream,
Always happiest out of doors, without shoes.