The Origins of Harriett Smith

Old Master writes her name in his ledgers
              or might. It depends on what Old Master sees

what subtleties he tracks, which gifts. Suki walked
               to Jerdone, he writes, but you need to read

Harriett walked. You need her to come up
             from the quarter & step through the narrow

bell of Old Master’s attention, a light girl
             with ears bored for rings. But Harriett is prudent.

She never wastes her scant yard of brown
            ticklenburg or breaks her tools in the field.

For a whole page in his daybook, instead of writing
            about Harriett, Old Master counts

his glass decanters from France. He orders
            every hand to finish harvest without saying whose.

You search for Harriett until the yellow
            globes of Old Master’s script go dim, gummed

like the fallen seed pods about his house. Well, well.
            It’s a good thing you’re a finch now.

You were born to gorge.