“…we have no papers but it being night
whose land is it” ~ D. Bonta

Bourgeoisie, bourgeois in French; burgis
in our colloquial tongue: this word and its variations,

whose roots lie in the urban— City, burgh, that place
where new conceptions of commerce had migrated beyond

their feudal base. There, even distant property
could be transacted as cubits on paper. Parcels of land

held long within a family by dint of cultivation
down the line, suddenly changing hands. Some village chief

languishing on his deathbed, members of his clan
who’d not yet learned to read or write—

and it’s X or a thumbprint on a blank, the blurry
stamp of a municipal clerk or magistrate holding office

in a sleepy town. Beneath the blades of an electric fan,
the cord thick with flies’ bodies quivers in the syrupy heat.

Decades pass and ingots fatten in safes, bonds and offshore
investments, euros in Swiss banks— Every such deed done up

by lawyers for heirs of that new class grown savvy in acquiring
and preserving capital. These are the ones society pages

talk about admiringly: how they come from an old line,
good stock
; how their fair sons and daughters have been

abroad, learned languages, gone to only the best schools,
sport a certain manner of dress and deportment fitting to

their class. Is everyone else besides just a peasant then? More
than hatband, cravat, gloved hand, calling card— the easy way

in which they move through the world’s what marks them. Access
is a series of swinging doors, levered by connection. My father,

good public servant till the end, took pride in how he never once
took a bribe. Get a good education! he exhorted; Read and use

your head. After his long illness, on his passing,
we didn’t know he barely had any savings in his bank account.

Sometimes, hearing of his contemporaries’ better fortunes, he’d say
in wonder tinged with envy: Look at what money can buy.


In response to Via Negativa: Night country.

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