THE ENNUNMENT CANTO 9
Gtounds of Sambakang Convent in Lobilaka, Fulumoa
These hurried cantos that I now indite
But little do reflect the time that passed
'Twixt my ennunment and the frightful sight
Of Chief Pokoka lying on the bast,
For in '394 had I been nunned,
As Ajinblambia was crowned our King.
The whole Nyatic kingdom, Ung, was stunned
By this completely unexpected thing.
And now it was '410, so years sixteen
It took me to establish Carvanilli
And Tantakoram Nunneries, between
My journeys undertaken willy-nilly.
I say "'394" but this is short
For "103,394", the year
When stated fully, as when we report
Our news, or our chronologies we hear.
More than five thousand Kings and Queens had reigned
In all those hoary centuries and ages,
But from epìtomizing I've refrained.
My pens are not enough, too few my pages.
This was the only time a lady'd ruled
Entitled King. This was a novel trend,
And, too, our Kings and Queens, we'd oft been schooled,
Just from the House of Ung did all descend.
Now to the House of Vríkshaya the orb
Of majesty was given free away.
Thus did the lunar dynasty absorb
The sovranty of Nya upon that day.
Now I'd been delegated to the jungle,
To Lobilaka, in the Southern Ocean.
I prayed no further would I daftly bungle
Or set the savage village in commotion.
Linguistics is my strong suit, so to speak,
And in few weeks I'd learned the Fulus' pidgin.
Thus was I able, so myself I pique,
To sermonize and solemnize religion.
You well may wonder, since I've been laconic,
Of just what our faith's articles consist.
Is it placebo, panacea, tonic,
Creed of elusive heavens in the mist?
We're realistic, full of rhymes and reasons.
Quite all our insights are empirical.
We measure continents and study seasons.
Our art's sublime. Our music's lyrical.
But we've no tale of demons, no vain myth
Of angels, cherubs, seraphs and redeemers.
Our faith is a sequoia, rich in pith,
An oriflamme of gold with grosgrain streamers
Resplendent in the Sun, which we call Dyo,
Here in the spiral galaxy of Ti.
Perhaps ten million light-years you must go
From whence you are out yonder, whither we.
I tried to lay such facts before the crowd
Of Fulumoan braves but they were wary.
They'd never heard such thoughts pronounced aloud.
Of novelties like these they all were chary.
Pokoka was still moodily polite.
The other Fulus, with cordĭality
Attending classes, learned to read and write,
Forswore their chronical brutality.
I also talked to buxom, brown-skinned girls,
Some tall enough to dwarf me scarily.
They all had long black hair, devoid of curls,
Like shining banners flapping airily
As they skipped through the village, playing tag
And hide-and-seek, or running through the wood.
I too enjoyed such games. I didn't lag
In races, and at hopskotch I was good.
They loved my school, there learned to weave a cape,
To fashion bracelets, necklaces and crowns.
I taught them to smelt silver, rings to shape.
They drew on parchment, sewed cute skirts and gowns.
I said I'd like a convent soon to found,
A quiet, peaceful haven, sweet retreat.
Sambákang Temple's long-abandoned ground
They offered as the nunnery's new seat.
This temple had been used to frighten foes.
There horrid masks loured down from poles in mud.
Behind a palisade an altar rose
Where sacrifices had been made in blood.
Both ash and gore the altar overlay,
While bones and hoofs were scattered in the dew.
An evil stench, the odor of decay,
Was borne on every gust therein that blew.
I could remodel that old shrine, they said.
The youngsters offered to do all the work.
They'd carry off each smithereen and shred
And clean the yard. No labor would they shirk.
At first offended to receive this haunt,
Abode of headhunter and cannibal,
I wondered if myself its past should daunt
And if indeed the air was sanable.
While yardwork was in progress, girls and I
Became good friends. Particularly one,
Whose name was Karaméla, sidled nigh
Whenever chats or lessons were begun.
This Karamela was but twelve years old.
She stood six six, while I was five foot eight
Moreover, she was supple, strong and bold.
It was as if we had begun to date
For she was always with me, at my side.
We'd merry moments of hilarity,
Fond conversations. Often we just cried,
Enjoying our familiarity.
The etiquette an abbess that is due
Was waived as she and I relaxed such norms.
The manners and the salutations too
We just dismissed as superficial forms.
One morning Karamela said to me,
"Come here right now, O Koni," for this name,
As short for 'Olezconia', used she.
Perhaps for leniency I bore the blame.
Imperatives and vocatives like these
I felt exceeded camaraderie,
Which till that time to practise we did please.
'Twas water overflowing pottery.
I balked at her command. She'd gone too far
To tell me to come to her presently,
As if I'd been her age and on her par.
I sought to be addressed more pleasantly,
With, "Prithee, good milady, please come hither,"
Or some expression equally polite.
In such a case, I'd gladly have gone thither,
But Karamela's order was a slight.
So I stood where I was, across the room,
Advancing not as she expected me
To do, complying with her word. "To whom
Thinks she she is pronouncing words so free?"
With outstretched arms the room she then traversed.
I raised my palms as if I would resist.
She seized my wrists, one in each hand at first,
But later gripped them both in her right fist.
She held them tight so I could not get free,
However hard I tugged and yanked her thumb.
She pulled me whither earlier had she
Been standing when she'd bid me hie and come.
Of course, this was a game, all done in fun.
Still I was stunned and startled nonetheless.
So gradually I'd learn that I must run
When Karamela tendered such address.
Week in, week out, in sweet sorority,
Did I and Karamela pass our day.
At last she was in full authority.
She would command and I must needs obey.
That I called Ajinblambia each morn
Upon the phone to tell how went the mission
Was felt by Karamela as a thorn.
She wanted total and complete tuition.
She bade me tell our lady King that all
Was tranquil in the Fulumoan town.
There was no need for me to daily call.
There'd be no reason for her to fly down.
I asked the Vrikshaya if I might end
This telephonic rhythm and routine.
I'd call just if her presence to defend
Myself from danger needful should be seen.
King Ajinblambia of course agreed
That, if I and the Fulus now were one,
I needn't call. She surely did concede
That I should just keep doing as i'd done.
I gave my phone to Karamela next.
She hid it. I the phone could never find,
Completely incommunicado, vexed
And vanquished, mute and deaf and blind.
So Karamela thus became my law.
If she should fillip, I would come straightwáy.
If she should nod, I'd let her know I saw.
If she should beckon, quickly I'd obey.
Months passed. The southern nunnery was built,
A place of beauty in the greenery.
I felt nor shame nor grief, nor wrath nor guilt,
Amid this paradise of scenery,
To have become the waitress and the maid
Of Karamela, now thirteen years old.
We still were friends providing I obeyed,
But otherwise she'd castigate and scold.
I waited on her hand and foot all day
And was on call at any time of night
To listen to whatever she might say,
To do whate'er was pleasant in her sight.
My dignity she then bade me resign
And name her abbess of the nunnery,
For elsewise there'd be punishment condign,
As fierce and furious as gunnery.
So Abbess Karamela did succeed
Myself as mistress of two hundred nuns.
She ordered me to don the novice weed,
Be as a postulant one of the ones.
Another year of silence me befell,
And I was gagged and bound each morning too.
I did just what the abbess did me tell.
What other thing remained me for to do?
When that my year was over, I first learned
That Karamela occupied a suite
Of many rooms, with woodwork carved and turned,
With lavish rug, down pillow, satin sheet.
Glass mirrors, vases, jars and chandeliers,
With grates and grilles of nickel, brass and chrome,
With paintings done in oil on the piers,
Suggested an aristocratic home.
Both cockatoos and parakeets she kept,
And she had darling monkeys on the porch.
All looked fresh-polished, orderly and swept.
Above her hearth blazed her perennial torch.
She next informed me I would live there too.
She had a cubicle reserved for me.
'Twas but a cage of sections of bamboo,
With knots of tow from the dracaena tree.
The cage stood in an alcove hid away,
Hardly much larger than a large armoire.
At night and sometimes even during day,
She'd lock me in with hasp and iron bar.
A panel she'd then slide with drapes of plush,
So that if you'd walked by, you'd never've guessed.
There was a hidden nook. You'd simply brush
The curtains unsuspectingly at best.
However, I had duties I must do.
My function was to oversee the suite,
Performing every deed without ado
To keep it straightened, tidy, clean and neat.
I helped the abbess bathe and don her weeds.
I served her meals and wrote for her her letters.
I minded her affairs, fulfilled her needs,
Respecting her as first among my betters.
Just seven minutes every day to speak
Was I allowed by Karamela, who,
Insisted I keep silence, shy and meek,
Servility and acquiescence too.
When all my chores were done, I'd to my cell,
Where I would sleep or simply sit and wait,
Till Karamela rang again her bell,
And opened wide the canework of my gate.
The convent was a paradigm of order.
It operated smoothly, full of grace,
Within the rows of palms that formed its border.
A thousand nuns now filled the holy place.
They worshipped Karamela as a goddess.
So who was I to register complaint?
'Twas better I wore smock above my bodice
And did the bidding of this living saint.
Three years had passed since last our lady King
Had come to Lobilaka. I'd not called.
So she flew on Air Fulumoa's wing
To certain that the mission had not stalled.
She was astonished finding things had changed,
Amazed that Karamela was in charge
As abbess of Sambákang, and arranged
The business of the nunnery at large.
But she was much delighted, very glad,
Regarded Karamela as a boon.
She and the abbess long discussions had,
While I brought bowl and platter, cup and spoon.
Then Ajinblambia, I heard her, told
The abbess how impressed she was that she
Had managed with such skill and will to hold
Unlimited authority o'er me.
She said she loved the way I came when beckoned,
And anwered when the abbess snapped her finger.
She marveled how so well with me she'd reckoned,
And said that if she liked she'd let me linger.
She loved the way I took just what was handed,
That out of fear I was meticulous
To always do precisely as commanded.
Another role would be ridiculous.
Admitting she myself had once misjudged
In letting me become an abbess, she
Would give her blessings if I fitly drudged
To serve the real abbess docilely.
They both agreed that everything was fine
Just as it was. They kissed and hugged each other.
I brought them bread and meat, and poured them wine.
The King told Karamela that another
Would soon assume my dignity in Eb,
My abbacy in Fwascren in the west.
She was assigning me, she wove the web
Of pinafores wherein I'd e'er be dressed.
To solemnize the order of the day,
She called her staff and had them rush a crate
Of aprons. Swift as sound, they, on their way,
Arrived in Lobilaka that same date.
The aprons came. The Vrikshaya herself
Presented them to me as vivid symbols.
I placed them carefully upon my shelf,
Where I kept needles, scissors, pins and thimbles.
I put one on at her behest again
To cover my black habit and my veil.
She bade me take a feather duster then
Along with brushes, sponges and a pail.
They sat on a divan to watch me clean.
They even timed me as I rushed about.
Both ladies offered comments in between,
While Karamela held her paddle out,
In case I made an error or was slow.
She'd paddle very smartly my derriere.
Then with increased motility I'd go,
As I wiped mantelpiece and table there.
The ladies giggled. They thought this was fun.
I was aghast, almost hysterical,
As 'round the room I frightfully did run.
Was this permitted nun or clerical?
It was good-natured merriment to them.
Next I was bidden bring my sewing goods,
And, as they monitored, a skirt to hem.
They called me the best seamstess in the woods.
Then I was told to bake some loaves of bread,
To knead with fingers fast and frantically.
While they inspected, labored I ahead,
All herculeanly, atlantically.
A stack of correspondence I digested,
Keeping accounts and answering petitions.
I hurried as the King and abbess rested
And watched for any errors or omissions.
At last did Ajinblambia express
Complete approval, absolute elation.
The abbess this inquíry did recess
And let me in my cell for my vacation.
The Vrikshaya saw Karamela close
My canework gate securely with a lock.
I sat upon my hassock for to doze,
Just glancing at the sand in my glass clock.
Next, Karamela noiselessly did slide
The panel made of slats of she-oak wood.
It was two meters high, three meters wide.
It smoothly rolled, on casters for it stood.
A rod of brass along the upper edge
Was mounted on small brackets screwed in place.
Thence hung the drapes of plush down to a ledge
Projecting from the woodwork as its base.
This molding was most éxquisitely shaped
With ogive. ogee, egg-and-dart, lunette.
The woodwork's middle meter wasn't draped
For Karamela's bust of jade was set
Upon a console jutting from the panel
Amid the olive plush's graceful fold.
She pulled the casters in their metal channel
Till I was out of sight completely rolled.
I heard the outer lock as it clicked to,
And clearly heard the ladies as they laughed
At this ingenious cell. With 'aah' and 'ooh'
I heard them sigh to praise this handicraft.
Our Ajinblambia'd fly back at once,
She'd likely not return to Ungonesia.
Expecting no reversals, shifts or shunts,
She'd soon of me have absolute amnesia.
I grew accustomed to my new position.
I loved my new assignment and career.
This was delight. This was a happy mission.
To be a nun and waiting-maid was dear.
Then Karamela did observe one day
That it was inconvenient that I wore
The habit of a nun. She seemed to say
'Twere better if, when I performed my chore,
I donned the dress and apron of a maid,
Short skirt of black, white stockings, ruffled cap,
Which I could starch and iron. I should braid
My hair, make rolls and clasp them with a snap.
About my waist she locked a belt of chain,
And from it, she the paddle did suspend.
It was no toy; it could inflict sharp pain.
When Karamela o'er her knee did bend
My slender body, pulling up my skirt,
And spanked so soundly I could hardly sit
For sev'ral days so sore my buttocks hurt,
But it produced results I must admit,
For I worked with efficiency and speed
The likes of which are seldom seen these days,
When automation and machines have freed
Most people, and robotics is the craze.
I guarantee the abbess knew about
The gadgets and devices one could buy.
She'd seen all the modernities no doubt
And knew about their limitless supply,
But I was like a curio or treasure,
An ornament she felt did grace her house,
I was a trinket that afforded pleasure,
A rhinestone brooch to pin upon her blouse.
Her guests admired her cockatoos and apes,
Her vases and her urns, her bust of jade,
Her long divan, her hearth, her velvet drapes,
And her incomparably pliant maid.
They marveled how my arms and legs so hurried,
My manner how 'twas timid as a doe's.
They praised the way I always quickly scurried
Enduring all the abbess did impose.
On me did Karamela visit panic.
She waxed severer, stricter every week.
She was authoritarian, tyrannic.
This was her very nature and mystique,
Her right meseemed divine; I had no choice.
There was nought whatsoever I could do.
I wasn't e'en allowed to use my voice
Except a timorous, "Yes, ma'am," to coo.
I slept not long enough; my eyes were bleary.
I ate too little; I was skin and bone.
I worked too hard; my limbs were getting weary.
What had begun as fun now made me moan.
How could I extricate myself, I pondered.
How could I execute delivery?
To Lobilaka how had I thus wandered?
How could I doff my maidish livery?
'Twas fortunate Queen Udi, in Mecnita,
Addressing Ajinblambia inquired,
"How is our Vocno doing, darling Sita?"
For 'Sita' was a pseudonym retired
That Ajinblambia had once employed
Before she reigned and ruled, when she still ran
Her place of business. Udi sometimes toyed
With her old name. So she again began,
"Dear Vocno's well, I hope. I must confess
I've sinned, dear Sita, not to ask till now.
You haven't mentioned. You did not express
Whatever thoughts you have behind your brow.
Perhaps I should say 'Olezconia'
Instead of 'Vocno', as we called him then,
Whilst he did shuttle 'twixt Ramdonia
And Eldor Palace ever and again."
Evasively the Vrikshaya did hem
And haw when Udi had this question posed.
Perhaps our gracious Queen would quite condemn
The destiny to which i'd been exposed.
I wasn't there when thusly they conversed.
The tenor of their interview was told
Me later by the Queen. The King, at first,
Appeared averse to talk, seemed to withhold
The news that Udi wanted. "Why so mum?"
Suspicions were awakened in her breast.
"Dear Ajinblambia acts deaf and dumb.
What is she hiding?" She did what seemed best
By asking for approval to fly south
To Fulumoa for to visit me.
Of course permission sounded from the mouth
Of Ajinblambia. She did agree.
She might have utterly refused to let
The Queen, as she'd requested, climb aboard,
At Jézgroid Airport, the imposing jet
With many meganewtons' thrust that soared
The vast cerulean expanse of sky
That vaulted o'er the sea aquamarine,
With sinuous white waves whose spume did fly
As they splashed beaches tan, palmettoes green,
But her refusal would have angered Udi.
The visit she envisioned made sense surely.
It wasn't that our Queen was being moody.
So Ajinblambia agreed maturely
To let her fly unto the Southern Ocean.
Ojáxmo, the chauffeur, in her V30
Drove her to Jezgroid, swift and smooth its motion.
Its balance was superb. Its build was sturdy.
When Udi at the abbess's first called,
I opened wide the door to let her in.
She barely recognized me, all appalled
To see me so fatigued, so gaunt, so thin.
Without delay, she roundly reprimanded
The abbess Karamela for my trials,
Insisting I be presently unhanded
To fly with her the oceanic miles,
Back to the awesome capital of Ung,
Back to Mecnita's hundred million people.
Thence I'd go towards a distant land, far-flung
Protectorate, or to Defdefa's steeple.
The nuncia, whose name was Sister Zóffas,
Maintained a presence in Mecnita city.
Right in the royal palace she'd her office,
A lady beautiful, refined and witty.
She was ambassadress. She did conduct
Defdefa Convent's business in the See,
For, though the nunnery's demurely tucked
In hills and holts that border on the lea
In Fwascren's north, Mecnita is regarded
As seat and see of our sorority.
So Zoffas dwelt in Eldor, where she'd started
Some years before in her authority.
She did maintain a chapel next her suite
With cells for nuns of our sodality.
Queen Udi asked, providing it were meet,
She give me home and hospitality
For some brief interim till she arranged
A fitting residence for me to live,
So Sister Zúniga not be estranged
And toppled from the place they her did give,
For Zuniga was abbess at their bidding,
By grant of Ajinblambia and Udi.
She was the highest sister sitting.
She ran Defdefa Convent as her duty.
Hence it would be a deed perfidious
If they restored me, Zuniga retired.
With this distinction so invidious
To be awarded I'd not have desired.
Quite handsomely did Zoffas condescend,
Affording me a chamber in her quarter,
Her poise impeccable as she did bend
And summon thither Vláquidor, her porter,
To roll my baggage on a stainless dolly
Unto the threshold of my maple door.
This Vlaquidor, so humorous and jolly,
Asked me, "Milady, have you something more?"
He disappeared. The window I looked out
To see the avenues' geometry,
The pattern of the boulevards without,
All ruled with perfect trigonometry.
It was the Spránceld District I beheld,
One of Mecnita's most illustrious,
Where gleaming towers soared and belfries knelled,
All raised by countless hands industrious.
And there were rosy meadows, groves of elm,
With theaters and windmills, pillars, founts,
The finest architecture of the realm,
The loveliest of Ung's, by all accounts.
Atop Mount Vlacva brightly could be seen
The marble statue, paragon of beauty,
Now finished, that surveyed this gorgeous scene,
Depicting Ajinblambia and Udi,
As they clasped one another, standing nude,
In infinite blue regions limned by Dyo,
By millions worshipfully daily viewed,
With Pantoflambo Field outspread below.
So many years had passed since I'd been able
To glimpse the Spranceld District I'd forgot
The car ascending Vlacva on a cable.
The passengers alighted at a spot
Whence one could mount a staircase to the base
Of Ajinblambia and Udi, where
A broad observatory, spacious place
A peerless panorama proffered there.
To reach the mountainous funicular
One needed but to board a golden comet.
Inside the metro's aisles vehicular
One could get to the cable's massive grommet
Connected to a bent just like a pylon.
You climb a stair or two, go to a wicket,
Then settle in a seat of glossy nylon,
As soon as you have handed in your ticket.
Next thing you know, you're 20,000 feet
Above the city's elegantly drawn
Cartography, its checkerboard of street,
Its interplay of edifice and lawn.
I simply had to go to see the sight,
Betook myself down to the subway station
With lavender majolica bedight,
And caught a train in blithe exhilaration.
At semi-sonic speed, the train advanced,
Its body sleek and supple as a dragon's.
When it emerged from under, sunlight glanced
And glistened on the streamlines of its wagons.
I toured the site, whence I discerned the palace,
Nine alabastrine ovals, clutch of eggs,
Where there was neither villainy nor malice,
Where neither thief nor plunderer had legs.
"What are the Fates now meditating? Why,
If there's a reason, am I turned and churned
Upon my restless sea? Why do they try
To keep me from the comfort I have earned?
Perhaps, now that I'm in the kingdom's hub,
I'll find a way to pacify my soul,
To straighten wayward folds and smooth the slub
Of this coarse veil I wear upon my poll."
From Vlacva I proceeded to Piljándar,
I district full of pompon and carnation,
With ponds with swan and heron, goose and gander,
Just as you escalate up from the station.
Here Shandra Queen and I had come by chance,
When she'd flown to Mecnita from the moon
To celebrate the feast, attend the dance
And watch the pageantry at highest noon.
The coronation's anniversary
Was the occasion when the lunar Queen
Would see the sights, howbeit cursory
The tour, for she'd few days, not e'en fifteen.
Then to the Quéshganc District did I ride.
Here stood the limestone mountains and the quarry
Where, once upon a time, i'd caught and tied
The Prophet's malefactors. Here's the story:
'Twas back around '386, long ere
Queen Udi had from hiding dared emerge.
Incognito she'd dwelt because of fear
Of Plúbac and of Jílndij, double scourge.
This Jilndij was a theocratic gang
Of Ubbans seeking Ung to overturn.
The Prophet had a cobra's poison fang.
Coincidence enabled me to learn
That members of his faction owned a haunt
Purporting a fraternal lodge to be.
Detective work and then a parlous jaunt
I undertook to see what I might see.
Their names were Drédplap, Ísofongd and Twándo,
And they had numerous subalterns too.
You'd think that every one was a commando,
So fit and fell as they their deeds did do.
These were the henchmen of the Prophet, who,
In order to advance his cause had forged
Securities he circulated. Too,
Some other sums of lucre had he gorged.
This was a time when only little knowledge
Of Ub, mysterĭous continent, did stand.
Not even in academy or coilege
Did anyone ken aught of that dark land.
The Prophet was Qazúdi. He did hail
From old Jhibílli Province. Into Eb
He'd slipped to issue worthless stocks for sale
To fund the weaving of his wicked web.
At any rate, his henchmen did surveille
Queen Udi's secret place, her hidden quarter.
I seized one Rújalc. He told me the tale
Of that notorĭous den at Queshganc's border.
Then Dredplap, Isofongd and Twando came
To Córlamarn, upon the Queen to peep,
To 111 Pónduraf, the same
Address my studio where I did keep.
Observing that they skulked in bush and tree
Across the street and monitored the scene,
I did devise a trap to snare the three
And thus from peril rescue our fair Queen.
A storage house in Ónjmo did I rent,
Did in its basement makeshift cells install.
I hired a van. To Udi's place it went,
Next her back porch, adjacent to her wall.
The railing I sawed off. The truck I altered
So that it did look like an atelier.
Inside, a little lamp that feebly faltered
I kept above the tiles and the parquet
It looked as if someone was working on.
The stage was set. An artisan did seem
To have his shop. One day on Udi's lawn,
When I'd confirmed that the obnoxious team
Of felons lurked, I open left her door,
As if forgetfully she had rushed in.
The men crept close in order to explore,
Then broke inside, and raised a frightful din.
They hurried through her suite and saw the van,
Now masquerading as a workman's nook.
Then hurtled in the threesome to a man,
While I locked tight the truck door with a hook.
I knocked the three men out with gasĕous fumes
And drove them down to Ónjmo in the van.
With help I dragged them to their prison rooms,
Kept them in custody, as was my plan.
I offered them hard liquor some days after
And got them drunk, thus loosening their tongues.
It was as if they climbed up to the rafter
By stepping on imaginary rungs.
They blurted all. They told me the location
Of Jváshna's mansion near the Úmzid River.
3 Sestindínia interrogation
Revealed as the address of this high-liver.
This was in Rolaspóniu, a town
West in Mecnita's vast suburban fringe.
To Rolasponiu I went straight down,
Thanks to the malefactors' whisky binge.
Observing Jvashna's movements in that sector,
I figured out the nature of his crime.
Eventually, with Dzémlavang, director
Of Ung's chief bank, I was allowed some time
To explicate the evil machination
And ominous intrigues then being mounted
To tumble down the turrets of the nation.
My whole investigation I recounted.
The news of Jvashna's fraudulent adventure
In Rolasponiu nor lagged nor dallied.
His bogus bond and counterfeit debenture
Enraged deceived investors, who then rallied
On Jvashna's porch and hanged him with his turban,
Which they snatched from his noggin and unwound,
Right in his tranquil neighborhood suburban,
Then set afire his mansion, dancing 'round.
The gang was caught. Next I and Udi wed.
She sent me to Qazudistan to spy
Upon the doings of the hoiy head
Their hierarchy hailed as their most high.
In circulating there I was involved,
To do the Queen's intelligence reséarch,
And so it happed to Kshaddi I revolved
When my train stalled and left me in the lurch.
In this remote terrain I met a party
Of five Qazudi girls who had a team.
By Vínja, Úsha, Mléchi, Dhábbi, Bárti
I'd been selected to promote their scheme.
These were five Vrikshayas in masquerade.
The sixth was Ajinblambia or Sita.
How could I know one day they'd cavalcade
The Avenue of Ung in great Mecnita?
Before the scene in Gángawar, I'd stayed
Near the Rijássi, at Jhibílli Square.
This was downtown Biháka, where I strayed
To Ajinblambia's, as I did fare
The streets of that metropolis Qazudi.
How was I to foresee she'd rule the planet
By forcing me from the boudóir of Udi,
Displacing me like water under granite?
The sequel of this escapade in Ub
I've narrated in cantos, stanzas, verses.
My sex was changed. With nuns alone I'd club
And cluster in the cloister. "Curse of curses!"
I once had thought, but now I loved the swish
My habit made, the rustle of my skirt.
This was fulfilment of my fondest wish.
I can't maintain I'd been unduly hurt.
Although all that was years ago, quite right
I still remember and have told the tale.
Now I continued to a famous sight:
The textile mills in Dévanasc impaled
The heavens with their smokestack colonnade.
Their grounds five miles along the Umzid lay.
The buildings were like engines on parade,
For each behind another did relay.
Petroleum synthetics and fresh wool,
With cotton, linen, additives galore,
Throughout those miles machinery did pull
To draw, first, yarn, a million strands or more,
Advancing at one hundred miles an hour,
In parallel formation, dense as bristles,
To cavernous interiors, where power
Drove awesome looms, and sirens, bells and whistles
Created din and racket, deaf'ning noise
To orchestrate the pulleys, gears and spools,
Gargantuan contraptions, titans' toys
Converting yarn to cloth with light-swift tools.
From out the labyrinth of looms, the bolts
Of fabric rolled to massive cutting tables,
Where robot blades with energetic volts
Cut garment pieces, then withdrew on cables.
So sleeves and collars, flounces, peplums, gores,
In heaping stacks from tables down came tumbling,
But electronic meters kept the scores
While paddles folded all, preventing jumbling.
The parts were sewn all automatically.
Reciprocating needles through their feet
Were swiftly pushed and pulled pneumatically
And seemed a solid blade they were so fleet.
Apparel mounted. Cars came south and north.
With grippers, tongs and pincers they collected
The dresses, capes and mantles that poured forth,
Them then in vinyl envelopes protected.
On belt conveyors boxes full of cloth
Whizzed into tunnels networking Mecnita,
Without a trace of mildew, dust or moth.
In stainless steel tubes, quick as a cheetah,
They hurtled to their distribution points.
This cyclopean enterprise was named
Ulmáctab Mills, the kingpost of the joints
By which our textile industry is framed.
I also went to Úlmla, where the trains
That came from Psébol Field dispensed their wheat.
Enormous querns of steel reduced those grains
To flour spilt into pots, machines that beat
Great tonnages of dough, revolving rotors
As large as lampposts turning in huge tubs,
Equipped with twenty-thousand-horsepower motors.
Then on expansile trays, where rolls on hubs
Pressed flat, the leavened mass became a sheet.
A grid of blades hydraulically was dropped
And cut the sheet to loaves, oblong and neat.
Into a million bricks the dough was cropped.
The trays expanded. Gaps between the loaves
Appeared, as dough was raised and flattened twice.
Then oceanic trays rolled to vast stoves
Five hundred kelvins hot, on guides precise.
The loaves were baked, then wrapped in paper sacks,
While eyes and lasers monitored procedures.
Loaves also into tunnels went on tracks
To stores where customers were like besiegers
So numerously coming to get bread.
A more delicious, chewier, plump kernel
You'll never find, wherever you are led
In Ti, our spiral galaxy eternal.
Nor on your planet Earth do they make loaves
As fragrant and as tasty-fresh as ours,
Although a myriad of workers roves
And bakes, remunerated by their hours.
Would that to fair Mecnita you could come!
Then you would savor every hunk of starch,
Each bud of flavor, every scrumptious crumb,
And back to Ulmla's outlets would you march!
Thereafter, out to Stótcremp did I ride.
This was a paper mill where I had traveled
Investigating chemistry inside
The stocks and bonds whose source I thus unraveled,
Then to Mecnita University,
To Búscobox and Ílgotranx and more.
I visited a wide diversity
Of trysts and haunts, resorts and spas of yore.
This was nostalgic. I was deeply moved.
I wondered if I should consult the Queen.
I wondered if my station it behooved
To ask to settle in this urban scene,
Where I had lived ere I'd been dressed in veil
By Ajinblambia. Should I attempt
To get the Queen to try to countervail?
Would Ajinblambia deem this contempt?
I meditated, cogitated, thought
How I should broach this subject with Queen Udi.
When back to Eldor I my cab had caught,
And through the lofty doors of peerless beauty,
Doors of gold tracery with garnet flowers
That climb one hundred feet the marble dome
That faces towards the thousand-story towers,
Ramdonia, I walked as if at home,
I met the Queen, and scarcely I believed,
She must have read my mind, for in her office,
She said she'd name myself, I was relieved,
To oversee both Zuniga and Zoffas.
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