Biddy Takes Pink Gin to the Country Dance

By Driscoll, Judy | Hecate, January 1, 1993 | Go to article overview

Biddy Takes Pink Gin to the Country Dance


Driscoll, Judy, Hecate


Biddy Takes Pink Gin to the Country Dance

The world's gone to seed, you know.

It's covered with white silk floss

and the setting sun

rafts like a fire ship,

like a red flaming catastrophe

into the banks

of the foaming

silk, slick and sleek of it

and there's blood of the sun

in the foam and froth and flare

of the kangaroo grass

in the autumn.

My old man put a red rinse

through his hair once, looked like that,

one time he was ashore in Singapore.

Fiery flamingo

flaming pink,

it turned out.

(It took a whole college of hairdressers

to get him grey again, in the end.

And they did it for community service.)

Three days he spent scrubbing it,

in a bathtub in the Merlin Hotel.

The more he scrubbed it,

the more it bled.

It made the seas incarnadine,

he said.

His mother was Scottish, you know,

a cultured Glaswegian.

"Out, damned Scotch!

Damned witch."

She and her sisters

went with the ship wrecked

Yankee sailors in the close:

"Heh, Jessie,

I think this wee wan's

got leprosy!"

Always after he loved the reek

of the bonfires burning.

The Judge said he was a plague

and would have to join the navy.

Fire in the topmast,

Fire in the chain;

Fetch a bucket of water, girls,

And put it out again. …

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