They sold at auction Wilde’s cellblock key,
the one for C wing in Reading Gaol—
Wilde’s name was his cell number: C.3.3.
Wilde was convicted of “gross indecency,”
got two years hard labor and the treadwheel—
they got £15,000 for Wilde’s cellblock key.
Wilde and (his lover), Lord Alfred Douglas (“Bosie”),
would pick up “rent boys,” go to the Savoy Hotel—
Wilde’s name would become cell number C.3.3.
John Douglas, 9th Marquess of Queensberry,
had Wilde arrested, not his son (worked a deal)—
auction tripled expectations for cellblock key.
You can still read Savoy chambermaid’s testimony
who saved the bedsheets, produced at both trials—
actually, three, before Wilde became cell C.3.3.
In five years, curtain descends at the Old Bailey—
show ends: Paris, Wilde dying broke, encephalitis, exile.
Dec. 13, 2016, Sotheby’s auctions cellblock key:
cell block C, landing 3, cell 3. Oscar Wilde. C.3.3.
STEPHEN GIBSON is the author of seven poetry collections: Self-Portrait in a Door-Length Mirror (2017 Miller Williams Prize winner, selected by Billy Collins, University of Arkansas Press), The Garden of Earthly Delights Book of Ghazals (Texas Review Press), Rorschach Art Too (2014 Donald Justice Prize, Story Line Press), Paradise (Miller Williams finalist, University of Arkansas Press), Frescoes (Lost Horse Press book prize), Masaccio’s Expulsion (MARGIE/IntuiT House book prize), and Rorschach Art (Red Hen Press). The poems in Issue 13 Summer 2018 are from a forthcoming collection, Obsessed.