Ankles and Ants
Sir Edward Burne-Jones
was, no doubt, like you,
impressed by his own name,
pleased that by his art,
he had attained his fair modicum of fame.
Before his easel, in his studio,
he lounged back, reclined,
to view his latest, unfinished canvas,
after he had long and suitably dined.
The door opened, and his young son, Philip,
quite casually, stepped in,
to present to him a piece of paper,
without expression, no frown or grin,
which had a rough drawing on it,
bare as a fish without a fin.
“And what is this?” Sir Edward asked,
raising his right eyebrow.
He could see what it was,
but he wanted his young son
to tell him, anyhow.
“It’s a quick sketch of my ankles and ants,”
his young son replied.
“As you can see, I wrote ankles and ants
at the bottom of my sketch,
to give it a name.”
His father looked at him quite wild,
when usually Victorian and tame.
“I am pleased that your drawing
is coming on by leaps and bounds,
but do you understand,
what you have said and written sounds?
Surely you mean your uncles and aunts?”
he mildly fumed, as if the proverbial spider
was crawling up his pants.
“Thought that is what I just said,”
his son replied, as if he were a kite, untied.
“My word. Blunderbuss and croaky crows.
Ants, my dear boy, are insects,
as well you should know.
Spring comes and over the floor, they flow,
and on the window sill, they go,
while ankles are part of the structure of one’s feet,
to make, as it were, the legs complete.
God forbid that I have birthed a boy
who cannot spell or pronounce his words, correctly,
even if, when you grow up, you show signs
that you can draw quite well.
Ankles and ants, uncles and aunts,
may sound the same,
but they relate to different things altogether,”
explained Sir Edward, like an owl,
who had lost a feather.
His young son shrugged his shoulders,
shook his head,
left his father in his studio.
His footsteps to his mother led.
She was fussing with the flowers,
as she often did.
He showed to her his sketch.
She looked at it as if it were
a rag he had found down a grid.
He was relieved to find
she knew who his ankles and ants were.
When he told her his father seemed confused,
and did not seem to know,
she told him that all creative persons
can sometimes be quite slow.
He shrugged his shoulders once again,
stumped up the stairs, to his room,
lay his sketch upon his pillow,
and wove wild dreams upon his loom.