The Duchess’s Hair Comb
In a very strong wind, in a leap of confusion,
a grasshopper staged an act of intrusion.
His leap took him higher than ever before
just as a visitor opened the door,
and he rocketed high over carpet and chair
to land in the dowager’s snowy white hair.
His illegal entry unplanned and unwitting,
he clung to her coiffure and he ceased his wild flitting.
As friend after friend arrived at her door,
each was given to say, “I simply adore
your new hair ornament. Is it vintage Lalique?
and they came a bit closer, the better to peek
at the grasshopper clinging within a stiff curl,
sprayed liberally so it wouldn’t unfurl.
The grand dame, a bit dotty and splendidly vain,
said over and over and over again,
“Yes, it is,” and bent over to pour out more tea.
Then she settled again, with a cup on her knee.
As the gossip flowed on with nary a bleep,
the grasshopper settled and soon fell asleep.
By this means, he avoided a swat or a squashing
as all of the ladies continued their noshing.
They murdered each sandwich and cookie and cake,
never once taking note that her comb was a fake.
And when the tea ended, he took a small ride
as his patron accompanied her guests all outside.
Then he took a great leap and was finally free
to luxuriate in his new liberty.
Not one person there knew the truth of the matter.
One guest told the tale to her favorite hatter
of the fabulous jewel the dowager wore
and the hatter relayed it to more and to more
of his customers, then asked the lady who wore it
if she would show him, so he, too, could adore it.
So she raided her vaults and her jewelry case,
but the jewel had vanished—was gone with no trace.
And the lady, known lately as vague and forgetful,
imagined great loss and grew angry and fretful.
She questioned her servants, then called the police,
but since she could find not a trace of the piece—
no receipts or photos or proofs of insurance—
the police could not give her any assurance
that they could recover it, and soon departed,
leaving the dowager so broken-hearted,
now convinced that this hair ornament was her favorite,
mourning the fact that no more could she savor it.
Thus goes the story that was handed down
among the servants and all over town.
It went down in history as a grand theft
that left the grand duchess sorely bereft.
While down in the garden, hearty and hale,
her purloined jewel calmly munched on her kale.