Thomas Carlyle's Maid: On Accidentally Burning His French Revolution Manuscript

Carlyle’s maid at her first job
far from the rutty hut of childhood. 
“Mum, I’m peacock proud.”
Mum’s eyes flashed the color of new coins. 
“Do your best is all.”

In a room bigger than her whole life
this maid, anxious to please,
stared into the roaring fire. 
Dreaming through every article in the room:
the gilded clock, 
a portrait of the brocaded matriarch, 
old painted vases with new flowers,
fancy teapots of every design,
a wall of books, beautiful
dark arms circling the room. 

“I cannot have, but I can touch,
touch and clean and straighten and re-set
and move and move back
and preen these pretty things.
O, a mess of papers.
That cannot be!
Into the fire with thee.”

“Dear Thomas, I never knew you.
You wrote about a revolution of the poor. 
Then sacked your maid.
At least you did not
chop off her head!”

Published in Verse Wrights