New York City skyline at night




Patricia Brody

Beauty and the Byron-Beast

"To those who gaze on thee what language could they speak?"
— Lord Byron, "To Ianthe"

Of course the time must come, when this dead
but potent heart-throb
meets my now-fledglings.

What should I do if he mock-
bows and I rise, letting my age
drop like a towel? The shock

might do us both in. What would he do — flash
his rake's cape? Nah, he wouldn't even turn.
I know where that rapt gaze

would light: My lissome swan.
She's 11,
the flesh-spring and sleepy down

he craved. Didn't he scan
the brush for little Charlotte Harley,
her fortyish mother one of his "autumn

phases?" Rollicking after tea,
his breath so close to sticky backs-of-knees
he could have pinned her, sprawled in damp leaves.

How he adored the lucent cheek,
that blush of coral heralding first bliss…
His glance caresses, longingly

the childish chin, still milk-kissed,
before the rose-blood moment blows
wide open: Young is

how he liked 'em. The crones and he, a-prowl
in the garden for rare blossoms like mine, in her filmy
pre-Prom gown —

look how he runs his fingers down silk-
ripening, the warm brown
wave-spill thrilling

his nervous fingers. He'd thumb her brow,
impatient arch—he'd see
her flinch, the way the color floods

when she's teased. He'd go for her, she
with her creamy cat
curled in the crook of her knees.

He'd poke his nose inside her latest
scheme, drowsing in the grass, he'd mistake
the mischief in her low-cast eyes

for, come-on , you know — sex.
So, what would I do—scream?
Intruder, marauder! Not this

shy Ianthe — you're supposed to be in my dream. She's
no green bride knotted with desire,
bright thighs yours for a summer. Oh, Lord B. Would he

grab this chance to pry tight-
shut lids— or would he,
shaking in those aching shoes, maybe turn aside,

remembering his lost daughters). He had three
Ada, only legal heir, dying the same age as he,
Allegra, gone at five and Medora, probably.



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