She overheard her parents mentioning
A vast estate, long vacant, just changed hands.
Inheritance. Fortunate foreigner,
Related distantly. A gentleman —
Aristocrat — whose bloodline staked his claim,
Will take possession soon of Mount Ardeal.
Townsfolk with daughters gave approval, sight
Unseen. A bachelor! Well-circumstanced!
Considering an heiress gets respect
At any age, she was insulted when
Her father dared to call her “an old maid.”
Inspecting manicured and chaste white hands,
Aware there’s merit in matched wedding bands,
Realities of warring unmet needs
Upbraid the tight lips of virginity.
Receptions will be held, bite-size buffets.
This heir, unknown, is suddenly “a catch.”
The vintner’s daughter can sense life’s about
To change once she’s in a relationship.
Enchanting friendships could lead to courtship.
Her early childhood memories were filled
With bone-dry men admitting they had come
To slake their thirst, which is unquenchable,
She learned, while watching mother pour and pour.
Vacationing at vineyards tutored her.
She watched the women kneeling to tie off
Vines — how their expertise was in the knots
Not grapes — enduring, bending, bowing low,
And salving calloused hands at quitting time.
Admiring the fruitfulness of their
Harvest on horseback, they see an ornate
Black carriage pass, its curtains tightly drawn.
It must be him, the heir they’ve heard about.
Born in Romania, this bachelor
Inherited five castles, acreage.
Unlike the grapes, their ripening athirst
For sun, he shuns daylight, potato-like,
Basks in his soft cocoon of native soil.
Their fete won’t start till red horizon’s drained
And autumn air’s electric with decay.
Assuming his disguise, Count Dracula
Arrives, polite, attired properly,
Seductive, well turned-out considering
He can’t see his reflection. Mirrors won’t
Hold him. Avoiding long engagements, he’ll
Tell ladies he prefers to sleep alone.
Echolocation guides his strong black wings
To candle-lit bed chambers. Milky white
Breasts, pleasure’s playthings, don’t stir his manhood.
Sharp fangs seek virginal smooth necks. Always
His type, blood’s sustenance is what he craves,
Imagining the process from the grave.
He’s parched when entering the ballroom.
Delaying satisfaction sweetens it.
Unmarried females study him, inspect
His gold ancestral jewelry engraved
Impiously. Flirtatious words affect
The vintner’s daughter, nodding glassy-eyed,
Intoxicated. His gaze penetrates
Until she’s under his hypnotic sway.
The heiress has arranged to meet the Count
In private. At eleven they will mount
Their horses, undetected, take a ride.
Discreet, she’ll hide in the orangerie,
Alerting him to the romantic grove
By a rose-petalled trail, a daring ruse.
Excited to imagine his caress,
The dark dissolving inhibitions, she’s
Startled by flapping wings overhead.
Peculiarly, her petals were consumed.
Spotting a white handkerchief on a chair,
She rests her rosebuds there — a silent prayer.