by Miriam Gamble

Later he will dress for dinner, though for now
he is embarrassed that the only thing he has to offer is the Lucozade
we brought, though by now he has forgotten that we brought it
if in fact he ever realised that we had. In his hands,
it’s a bottle of inferior stuff he’s somehow in possession of
though God knows what, he mulls, compelled him to avail of it
or compelled the hired help to set it out. We sit
on with him into the cocktail hour, drinking the inferior red
out of crystal glasses; this is the time
for Gin and Tonics, always was, and again he laments of the butler’s taste.
You cannot get, he says to us, the staff these days;
even when you are offering good money
there is nothing there but riff raff to be bought.
Crisp, starchy, the dress shirt he will wear to dinner
when he goes with the other men to the club
to talk about the war and the next good outing to be
ghosts the chair; beneath it are his spats. There’s a gramophone
singing in the corner, and if you listen closely you can hear
the planes already rising heavily from German runways
even though there are many hours until night.