I don't do snapshots, but here's my last of the year.
Modernity arrives, and the Baron
must walk unattended
down from his ratty castle.
He retains - for how long? - his sword
and angled looks of respect
from the townspeople. But the latter
will not forever tug
their forelocks. Soon, journeymen
will be masters, peasants farmers,
women men, and merchants
something even the Emperor cannot
imagine, or so
they imagine. The Baron
responds to their (shortened) bows
with a sardonic look
that stands for wisdom and, he hopes,
precludes impertinent demands for it.
The half-timbered tavern
with its smoke and darkness
remains - for how long? - timeless,
and here he commands ale
and sits with his two friends.
But is the priest his friend?
Is he even, still, a priest,
with his robe soiled and a look
less of doubt than of beseeching -
not the grimy slice
of sky that can be seen
from their table, or the one
Guest whose arrival
he was detailed to hope -
but any other customer
than those who, rude and
already drunken, enter?
Only the alchemist, who
now joins them, appears
content, his smock cleansed
of mercury and sulfur.
Of late he has realized
that if one succeeded
in making gold, the worth of gold
would end. And in this
has descried a mystery
that can be pursued
The Baron scowls, the prelate shakes
his head while, through
the town, a fresh busload
of tourists - i.e., individuals - roam,
benign, feckless, resembling
(if you know the reference) shmoos.