The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 10 no. 2


Jeanne Marie Beaumont

Circa 1812


         She sweeps the dirt floor of the cabin.
Meanwhile, a trio of ships sets sail under fair skies, light winds.
                   The asthmatic brother spends six bed-ridden months.
Meanwhile, 600,000 conscripted soldiers
                               leave for the eastern front.
                   In Paris, a curtain comes down on a play by Racine.
         Three fleas dance on the bed of a prince.
Meanwhile, Fréderic slaps his toddler hands
         in a spot of moonlight on the nursery floor.
                   Little Felix falls to his knees trying to march.
         The young poet, meanwhile, in his attic room above the surgery
           dreams of extracting a beautiful tooth . . .
                   blood dots the sheet.
James delivers some disquieting news to Dolley.
         A soldier fires up a batch of doughboys for his mess.
                   Meanwhile the thirteenth company wife
                     shall have no rations.
My great great great grandmother in Germany washes
         a stockpot or a stocking—it's too dim to tell.
                   Not far away, a nursemaid repeats her tale
                           till the older Grimm brother gets it right.
A wall develops a weeping crack from the top of the window
         to the ceiling, henceforth, the widow’s crack.
           How to support a family of six?
         Meanwhile, the pawn formation is a mess
                                     and the king position dubious.
                   Two boars are butchered near a mountain stream.
Meanwhile, the lady novelist spins a thread:
         Elizabeth dared not lift up her eyes. How Mr. Darcy looked, therefore, . . .
                   Napoleon, meanwhile, after a small repast, scowls dyspeptically.
A physician ponders the problem of hearing the heart.
                          In a far territory, she sweeps and sweeps—is she afraid?
         I'm in my early life as a fly, and I skim from table to
                   table in search of the best gossip, best jam.