On Visiting Versailles

I dreamt my lover introduced me to his four sons. One for each season, I thought.

The youngest was magnificent.

‘His mother was a tiger.’

That explained his thick, brilliant coat, umber slashed with black. I could not help smiling. He was beautiful. He watched me, perhaps kindly, though he did not speak.

I turned away to look around the room. A party room, full of people I didn’t know. Young, old, children. Laughing and running about, chatting and smiling.

Mirrors on the walls and chandeliers hanging from high ceilings.

Versailles?

No. A place I could never get to.

‘And there are the others!’

Three young men, each with luminous eyes. My lover beamed at them.

‘Their mother was a panther.’

Of course. They were sleek and compact: magnetic. One was a father himself, his youngest perched on his shoulders waving at us.

She had the look of her grandfather.

Should I, I thought, at least feel chagrin? Should I resent the tiger and the panther, the lives he had with them before me? But I was only happy, happy to meet his children. I didn’t care who their mothers were. I didn’t remember that there was no ‘before’ for either of us. These children were everything a man could wish.

The tiger son blinked his great amber eyes.

I woke up, in a barren street.