Here on this accursed rock under the emicant stars,
they have made for me a Little Ease.
In the long limbo of my evening
time is marked by the ticking of the rain,
the cackle of parchment,
the ghost echo of musket fire.
In dreams I remember the march
and beat of the advance,
the deluge of the night before,
my horse treading Belgian ooze
that kept my canons mired.
In my room the bright green of the hangings,
perpetual damp seeping from the walls,
the strait tent of my sleeping,
scuffle and stink of rats underfoot
making a tainted chamber of my rest.
All my colognes will not mask this fetor,
nor in my dreams the stench of dead and dying.
I have need of your grace, my rose of Martinique,
your unguents, fumes and distillations,
your heady scents, sweet vapours, attars,
all the bouquet of your perfumed flesh
to keep at bay the dark, the hellish shades
that shred my nights to cabinets of humiliation.
Come to me when the moon
is a slick silk on this black sea,
bring orchids, lilies, the alchemy of Houbigant,
your own beloved musk.
Let us outmanoeuvre love with memory,
be Emperor and Empress of desire.