TWO POEMS WRITTEN FOR SIEGMAR
Before there was an Emperor
There was the Emperor’s cat
Which, by sheer force of personality,
Compelled the Emperor into being.
Five cats have done their best
To make something of me.
Alas! Two dogs had other plans
And so I am not an Emperor.
This much I know: One spring day,
Around the time I was being born,
The poet Edith Sitwell had brought
Her ailing brother Osbert to New York.
I made my debut at the Polyclinic
Opposite the old Madison Square Gardens;
They were a few blocks uptown
At the St. Regis. At 4 A.M., while my father
Was hailing a cab on 116th Street, Edith,
In a huge turban and strange silver robe
Confronted the man at the desk.
“There are noises in the wall,”she said
“Plainly, some poor nun has been immured there
And wishes to be released. If you give me the tools
I will free her myself.” The clerk sighed,
Saying, “Dame Edith, we have told the Archbishop.”
Sixty years have passed and only now
Have I learned this. When I am ninety
I expect to know wonders.