“Stop moping!” she would cry: “Look at the harlequins!
“What harlequins? Where?”
“Oh, everywhere. All around you. Trees are harlequins, words are harlequins. So are situations and sums. Put two things together–jokes, images–and you get a triple harlequin. Come on! Play! Invent the world! Invent reality!”
I did. By Jove, I did. I invented my grand-aunt in honor of my first day dreams, and now, down the marble steps of memory’s front porch, here she slowly comes, sideways, sideways, the poor lame lady, touching each step edge with the rubber tip of her black cane.
(When she cried out those four words, they came out in a breathless dactylic line with a swift lispy lilt, as if it were “lookaty,” assonating with “lickety” and introducing tenderly, ingratiatingly those “harlequins”who arrived with festive force, the “bar” richly stressed in a burst of inspired persuasion followed by a liquid fall of sequin-like syllables).
Tell her that sheds
Such treasure in the air,
Recking naught else but that her graces give
Life to the moment,
I would bid them live
As roses might, in magic amber laid,
Red overwrought with orange and all made
One substance and one colour