My dear girl, I'm scared witless by moths boring under cuffs,
along hems, and aslant hat feathers on this Mardi Gras; I rue
tigerish mandibles banqueting in my Saratoga-Carroll trunks --
once that vermin rallies, it's nigh impossible to staunch avarice.
As it is, can much woo or win me? My spirit's very willing, yet
my purse, not very extensive. I hear things: "O balls, she acts
like a seedy old Scotch washerwoman bedecked for a Sunday
at Highbury Barn." Another matter -- I stay very anxious lest
moths pillage my velvet cloaks that we'd never replace. Might
they ship nailed in lockers sealed with beeswax? Pardon me for
vexing you so much -- I fail at vanquishing my few weaknesses.
I should cheer up & shine bright & young again. I hear voices.
"If you are amongst us, Mister President, please rap once. . . ."
Take best care not to dislodge the camphor pack; snug plenty
of horrid Chicago newspapers round any shawl I've given you.
Oleander sachets, fresh cedar closets, meerschaum hangers --
nothing rids moths. You hold an invitation from Mrs. Grant?
Her wickedness leaves me breathless. The better stations here
wear plaid. For our girl-infant, I wrangled the sweetest ecru
gypsy bonnet. I pray you'll smash the sly moths in my gloves.
Sleep? Ah, if only. A picaninny fans me until cockcrow. Mrs.
Grant is a moth. I don't feel I can train east of Flanders to tour
chateaus where mammoth Queens once ruled. I'd be willing to
thrive on a crust of bread any day to dwell in their stead again.
May the choicest blessing rest on you, my precious moth-slayer.
Copyright © 2002 Ed Lynskey
Ed Lynskey's poetry has appeared in such online ventures as Pedestal Magazine, Chiaroscuro, Sidereality, and other places.
The poet consulted The Insanity File: The Case of Mary Todd Lincoln, edited by Mark E. Neely, Jr., and R. Gerald McMurty (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois Univ).