A silly word, a surreptitious joke
between old ladies. From a French description
of a Napoleonic prison ship:
"méchant odeur", tainting the onshore wind.
Why do the young suppose the old don’t know
that vintage craft give off an emanation
that hints at obsolescence and demands
an instant, arbitrary change of purpose?
Tant pis. Let’s downgrade slowly, you and I,
equip ourselves for further voyaging,
test our unshivered timbers while we may
on seas that still invite us into action.
Still fighting, still avoiding tell-tale talc
and anything suggesting lavender;
taking on board the Oeillet Mignardise,
Rive Gauche, Chanel, and white camellias.
After a last quick check for rogue whiskers
one of us asks the all-important question:
Meshantador, darling? Nah, you’re OK
and two fine ships set sail into the street.
If you have any comments on this poem, Ann Drysdale would
be pleased to hear from you.