Excerpts from Lucinda Watson's THE FAVORITE



I remember when I was young and beautiful but at the time

I thought I was fat and boring. Maybe my mirrors were bad or

my astigmatism was uncorrected.

Now I think I am bewildered about what I did in my life

and why I stayed where I stayed.

I have written to the British royal family and asked them to consider

adopting me. I think I would be a good addition as I know how to dress

and have beautiful table manners and I really feel comfortable with a strict schedule.

I would know instinctively how to back out of a room, and how to occupy

myself during the daytime hours.


I would certainly never embarrass anyone and I like the idea of knowing

what was going to happen for the next 7000 days.

I love dogs so I would fit right in.

I look good in riding clothes even though I am 70 but the horse

always knows I am afraid of him.


I don’t think it’s a lot to ask of the royal family because they need help

and so do I. It’s a very equitable solution for all. I don’t need a title

though I would like a crown. I like the idea of living in a house

with many other people who have no idea how many people are actually living

In the house. It’s the idea of all those bodies there that brings comfort

and the prescribed nature of life which is soothing.


Across the Pond

I used to take the old, red canoe after school before
my brother got to it, and find freedom on the pond
though it was covered in algae and fingers of weeds
that grabbed you from under.
Out I would go, a silent paddler, learned at midnight
when humans slept. Dipping into the dark water with a perfect
arc of stroke, a sliver of silver, a flash of speed,
Pocahontas with no braids, paddling to the island floating on
the lake with birch trees like antennas poking up to the sky.
I was invisible.
The canoe always found its shelf under trees who bent down to
cover me, and my hand took the frayed, gray rope
held before by prior escapees, and wrapped a Bowline
around the harsh white and black of the bark on the tree trunk.
I was safe.
Utterly still on the verdant moss, velvet skin to caress, lying back
softly, my hair was green, my hands were green, the camouflage
was working. It always worked.
No one could find me here.
The birches were wrapped in paper bark with messages
underneath like ancient Greek tablets only I could translate.
Sometimes it took all afternoon.
I was a stubborn child and waiting was my middle name.
Small and large ants crisscrossed my bony ankles like feathers
against skin.
A snake came and went.
There was a bird call.
The island was so still, nothing could move it off its anchor.

I learned everything I know from that bark



The Lion Still Roars

When my father died
everyone ran for his stuff:
clothes and cameras–
cufflinks and chainsaws–
I got the lion,
his childhood toy.
Head dangling from a hole in the neck,
fur worn down to a gray nub.
The lion jumps when you pull its string,
it sits back ever so slowly on its haunches and
springs at you when you thought it wouldn’t.

The lion learned this from a master jumper.
A slapper, a dancer, a breaker, a chewer, a crier, a liar.
Right by the bedside the lion watched and learned.

One can’t repair this brain chemistry in animal or man.
Violence is just violence, after all.

My mother thinks I should have the lion repaired.
She is used to the simple act of pulling a string,
comforted by things as they were.
But the lion and I have an understanding
about the unpredictable nature of life.