Granny Was an Angelfish

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As for me, I collect pets: young girls—girls from ten to sixteen years old; girls who are pretty and sweet and naïve and innocent—dear young creatures to whom life is a perfect joy and to whom it has brought no wounds, no bitterness, and few tears. My collection consists of gems of the first water. ……………………….Autobiography of Mark Twain, dictated February 12, 1908

But she was only five when she joined, Four months later, the Club with her sister, Louise, fourteen, and Dorothy Harvey, The Colonel’s daughter, for cards on the terrace His first week there, the villa then called Innocence at Home. It didn’t stick. Summer solstice and Livy gone, Terror harrowed his hours alone, A neighbor wrote, taking the photo Of four at the table intent on their hands, Frocked older girls in big wicker chairs, Same as their host in snowy flannels With boiling white hair while little Joy, Black bow in hers, dangled small feet Over an iron one. ………………………………………Hard to believe She mastered canasta or took to billiards Or excelled at charades, but Angelfish pin Clipped to her collar, she liked to ride Down to the village with him in the car, Debating the woods: Those, he said, Are elephant woods. No they’re not, They’re fairy woods, the fairies are there, But we can’t see them because they wear cloaks That make them invisible. Oh, he said, Sometimes I wish I had one of those; I had one once, but it’s worn out.