She has asked us, for the tenth day of our poem-a-day challenge this April, to prepare a Document of Discussion, of a conversation real or imaginary.
Of course, none of the circumstances below should be any surprise to those who know Mama Zen, Hedgewitch, and Fireblossom from the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads. Of course we expect them to be singled out for singular honors and crowned with flowers and made members of the Order of the British Empire, and everything else. But I leave it to you to decide whether this Document of Discussion records a real or imaginary conversation. (The fact that it is now 1:30am should not influence your decision.)
* * *
I wasn’t at all nervous about attending the tea at Buckingham Palace. I was a mere minion, a sort of editor-cum-proofreader for the real stars of the afternoon: Mama Zen, Hedgewitch and Fireblossom.
Their book had been made into a movie, and then into a stage play, and apparently the Queen of England loved it.
We had all learned to curtsy (although Shay wanted to bow) and learned to address the monarch as “Your Majesty” upon first meeting her, and thereafter as “Ma’am” although I certainly wasn’t expecting a thereafter, planning as I was to become a cross between a wallflower and a wooden Indian.
“Oh, there you are, when can you start?” asked the Queen.
“I beg pardon, Ma’am, I don’t know what you mean.”
“Well, you know I need one, and I’m sure you’ll do fine.”
“I’m sure I don’t know, your Majesty, Ma’am, please.”
“No, no, I told them, I looked over my list of employees,
I have everyone else but, wouldn’t you know it?
It seems I don’t have my own Poet Laureate.”
After I fainted, Mama Zen patted my hand, Shay helped me up, and put me on a bench, while Hedgewitch scanned the royal tea table for a suitable herbal remedy: ginger, ginseng, echinacea, or lemongrass tea.
“Well, now,” said the Queen, “I do believe my grandmother Victoria had the same problem with Rudyard Kipling, after his Nobel Prize. He turned down a knighthood and the Poet Laureateship: the knighthood several times as I recall.”