They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks’ own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.
—Robert Browning, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”
Over the past few nights, every time the Cleveland airwaves reverberated to the word HILLARY, I heard the name “Rats”. Hillary, who spawned the end of Khadafi and prepared a cradle for ISIS; Hillary and her clandestine basement e-mail server; Hillary, who dodged fake bullets in Serbia; Hillary who bestowed favors on donors to the Clinton Foundation; Hillary, who helped escalate Bill Clinton’s speaking fees; and, of course, Crooked Hillary, ……..all I heard echoing was RATS.
In the background was the music played by not one piper, but what seemed an endless parade of pipers – wrestlers, actors, senators, congressmen, lawyers, generals, and charming ladies. They kept coming. And then I realized, judging from their stature, that they were no match for the lead piper. The lead Piper stood tall on a screen with his golden mane blowing backwards in the wind, but the other pipers looked small enough to be mistaken for rats. I wondered if it was perhaps the Cleveland Rats Orchestra. In the demonic excitement of the evening it really didn’t matter.
Of course, through the passions of the evening the name Hillary no doubt signified something of a Queen of Rats. Yet, she was nowhere to be seen in the pulsating, cheering, banner-waving arena. But in the wake of the tumultuous throng of pipers marching towards Valhalla, I thought I saw thousands of rats in a beautifully choreographed march.
They marched, and they marched, and they marched, until they climbed a hill and came to the edge of a cliff. And then the rats disappeared like lemmings into the precipice below. There was a deathly silence, and then the lone Piper started to pipe again. A soothing, beguiling melody. And a new band of marchers materialized at the Piper’s feet. They waited, and they waited, and they waited, and the piper played on.
I fell asleep. When I awoke, the cliffside was deserted and empty. But for me.
Battle River Writing Centre is delighted to offer this exciting workshop by BAYEUX ARTS Digital and Traditional Publishing.
Toronto launch of Ayesha Chatterjee’s new volume of poems, “Bottles and Bones”