• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 05


You wouldn't believe it unless you'd seen it;
their high table groans under such luscious fare,
gathered from all corners of our known world –
nurtured in the loamy earth, netted from oceans
and hunted in woodlands. Juice-burst grapes,
rich meat hung for weeks, mushrooms dug
from forest floors, floury potatoes, flat fish
served with lemons, lobsters ready to boil
and die, berries plucked from thorny hedges:
all this served with heavy scented wines
to fill the bellies of my Lord and Lady,
their cousins, friends and allies. Their pet mut,
silk-coated, gorges on droppings from their laps;
this dog eats better food than me. Before I serve
each day's rich dishes, I cram my mouth
with dry bread and small beer
to avoid temptation and prevent fits of fainting.
You wouldn't believe it, unless you'd seen it; unless
you'd stayed your own, treacherous hand – fingers
intent on stealing my Lord's forbidden, leftover scraps.
Unless you'd risked shame and maybe execution.