THE GARDEN PARTY

I

“At midday, this Sunday, the world will come to a head
Around my house, with nibbles!” The English Primeminister said.

In an overfamiliar text to the rest of the planet’s nations
The PM waffled on about strengthening relations:

“With nibbles and treats! Around my house, before tea.”
This one will… charm the world, he thought, to himself, hopefully.

“Never in the course of human history
Has so much been owed by so many to one man: me.

So I want there and there and there’ (he pointed the places
Where he wanted Germany, America, and China; the other spaces

He left till later) ‘the Big One and Two and Three:
China, America, and Germany – sitting next to me.

For the rest of them, place each man according to his proper rank:
Keep myself away from the Irish, the Cuban from the Yank,

We do not want fisticuffs.

Right, for the French – Bread. For the Russians – vodka. India – curry.
China – noodles. For the Yanks – do hurry

And find something nice, but slimming. The Germans – like our food. Next –
Canada, yep. Bulgaria, whatever. Iran – no?” (Their text

Must have been forgotten) “Pakistan, Croatia, Prussia – are they all there?
Right, lovely, all countries measured out equally and fair.

Now, for my lunch I want” (He clasped his hands over his heart)
“Scones and tea and muffins! Vikki sponge and gypsy tart!

Oranges and apples freshly picked, cured bacon and roasted ham!
The berries that are sweetest and the sugar that is richest for our Old Albion’s berry jam!

Ah, England, this feast rustled up for comrades near and far
To spoon onto their luncheon plate: England in a jar.”

But inevitably, disconcertingly, onto his heart pressed the sudden realization
Of the 21st Century, and the reality of each nation

Entering his home, for warmth, and scones, and things English, flickered in a flash
Before his eyes, and with clammy hands he reached for the rash

That habitually haunted his neck, saying to himself “It’ll be fine on the day”
But unconsciously, secretly, wishing the world to come, then go away.

II

On the brink of twelve o’clock the host was waiting, by the door;
He had thrown parties in the past, but never like this before.

His calm, supportive wife sat quietly, listening to his steady pace
Pace the room, interpreting the worried look on his face.

New friends sprung up these past few years, new friends to impress;
He rubbed a smudge from his polished shoe, and cast an eye over her dress;

Good: we are good. But then he heard the first foreign wheel crunch onto the drive.
The meeting of the nations had come. “Everyone!” he bellowed “All of you: look alive!”

Behind the door he waited, fearing the possibilities he could possibly miss:
Grip firm with the welcoming handshake – or go in for the continental kiss?

No. Well, the chest to chest hug, then? No. Tea
And cake, yes? And a stiff upper lip, and a – and…

Be cosmopolitan: Man of the World: welcome in French and Swahili and English and…Fuck.
Oh come on, come on! Don’t be so ridiculous, stop being such a schmuck!

“Christ, I’m not even Jewish!” he suddenly exclaimed aloud.
“Remember the Britons…” a secret voice said, “do the English proud…”

But don’t fuck it up. Just be nice. And all of what has gone before,
And all the stupid things you’ve done, leave heaped up by the door;

Do them in, and dig a hole, and put them in, so no one finds
The little tiffs and rows that we once had, that rest unsettled in our minds.

Be proud. Yes. Pride. He strode to the door with bold English zest,
Grasping the handle with three lions burning on his chest,

And with his intentions right and moral, and his focus on the front gate,
He entered into the newest of orders, and demanded himself to tolerate,

And knowing where he has come from, knowing where to he cannot tell,
He held his pride at the lawn’s trimmed side, and hoped the world would come well.