A Late Riser’s Miserable Breakfast

A Late Riser’s Miserable Breakfast, a watercolor by Carl Larsson of one of his daughters, 1897.

A Late Riser’s Miserable Breakfast

The girl in the striped dress and black ribbons
sulks over her cold and solitary
breakfast: unfair that everyone else got
lovely hot eggs while she’s facing cold loaf
and tepid tea in the detested checked mug.
And terribly unfair that her sister
in her red beret is already slipping
out to the autumn garden where she hears
the shouts and play of the laughing others
as the glorious game goes on without her.

What is it this time? Pirates or prisoners?
Princesses of Mars? Egyptian pharaohs’
daughters drawing out baskets of babies?
Slaves or mummies in sarcophagi or
the burning of Joan of Arc or crowning
of Charlemagne or stabbing of Caesar
in the Roman forum? Or rowers on
a galley bound for sunny Palestine?

The peaches, lingonberries and flowers
in the white vase taunt and tease with promised
bowers. But she resists. Never will she
eat the bread of iniquity, the crusts
of captivity. Surely if she holds
out They will see how unjust it all is.
Surely the children will come running back
crying how impossible it is
to play the game without her.
The red napkin flying under her chin
declares that she will never surrender.

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