Saturday, September 3, 2016

A Princess of the Empire

The job of royalty, of course, is theater:
it mandates the performance of interminable
charm and practiced waves and subtle wiles
and graceful smiles – all tastefully informed,

of course, by more varieties of politesse
than could be guessed at by whom you would
never publicly address, but secretly would sigh
to think of as the least known life of all to you:

The Commoner. Oh! – so much less common
were your few fleet, secret intimacies – so rare
they did not number, over all the thirty-seven
years you’d taken and sustained the dare

to live as the display of “Princess of the Empire” –
more than ten. Which in a flash just now became
eleven. Some reflex shocked you into lifting up
your hand to wave, not royally, but like the shyest

little maiden at someone who’d waved at you –
who, just before he’d turned to leave the gilded
Public Room had in a lover’s private catch
that stopped your breath looked back at you –

full of the ardor of his quick discovery that you
were fragile and accessible and beautiful – oh,
how he seemed to you to fit! And that, as usual,
was it. There was nothing you could do with it.


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