(After this painting by John Williams Waterhouse of the same title...)

Queen of Cups,
What are you dreaming,
Eyes so solemn, book open before you?
The little dish in your hands
Recalls the sea.
Prophetess, whatever could I conceal
From your gaze?
Yea, I must set sail ere long;
Your mirror says as much,
Far away, at what risk I cannot guess.
Oh why must you always
Ask the questions whose answers hurt most?
Do not ask, I beg you,
If I will survive the voyage,
Not until I am far to sea.
Let us instead
Talk of pleasant things.
I shall loosen your hair and
We shall dance and play at love,
And I will read you dirty limericks,
Tease your spirits with appalling puns,
And I'll cheerfully endure your stories
Of Lady Catherine's exploits,
And commit to memory your host of needs and precious desires
Whose purchase I may well afford with the success of this voyage,
And then, on the appointed day,
I shall leave you with a special gift ere I depart.
(And please don't poke around with that
Infernal mirror of yours, and try to divine
The nature and substance of my gift!)

George Chadderdon © 1996