My long blank wall on the street is
Broken only by a carved wooden door
That is rather beautiful, they say, and
My people are often accused of pride,
Of arrogance, of haughtiness, of keeping

Themselves always aloof - but not
By those who know. A little girl
Will walk my corridors, slowly, for fear
Of falling, white-faced, expressionless,
In company. When alone with

My cold walls she wears a mask
Of pain, with a bad leg and a
Tendency to bleed. Once she slipped
On one of my tiles and hit her head
Against the yellowed plaster. She

Wouldn't stop bleeding for almost
A day. She never speaks. The gaunt man
Who dwells with her and the servants,
Talks to himself in the dim bedroom
At the back. I have grown used to his

Lengthy harangues, bitter accusations
Directed at fate, at himself, at time – he
Never smiles in there, not like the days
When laughter hadn't quit my rooms
And a shy woman shook out her braids

For him – back then even he was
Happy rather than haughty, more
Alive than aloof. My long façade
Does not keep anyone out. It's years
Since anyone still cared to come.

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