Truly, visitor, I blush
that this is how you see me first.
You must have been expecting more,
something more like my estate on Earth.
And were we there, I would show you all:
the fountain carved from the largest diamond,
cleaned of slaves’ blood and filled with soda;
the room with walls embossed with pearls
from an ocean purchased for that purpose;
the floors of marble mined
from an ancient mountain (now a pit).
I would show you the children,
the twelve most beautiful children in the world
which I found and had killed and cast in plaster
to make lively statues of solid gold.
I would show you the servants whose severed faces
have been replaced with grinning masks —
they would serve you with ivory spoons used only once.
But instead you have met me here,
and I prefer to live simply when at home.
Here is my clay jug of water;
here is my small bed and blanket.
Beside the fire I read or draw in charcoal
while thinking of distant hills.
But here — look at the mantel
and see my indulgence:
this smooth, gleaming shell with eternal spiral
and houndstooth pattern of bone and mahogany.
In life it would have held a poisonous snail.