Marie Antoinette Performs la Toilette du Matin

by Miranda Gaw

How hungrily she snatches

at my royal chemise, the Comtesse de Provence,

and pins the dripping thing to a line

woven from lineage and ink.

At night I've been holding these dances

where we drink too much and mask ourselves

in velvet and feathers and sweat and flirt because

I don't know how to quell hunger or draw down rain.

I spend the rest of my life in a jewelry case, swaddled

in pastel crinolines like a

Thiebaud . . . such disconnection;

after all, what roots us? If it isn't objects

it must be people or history—

Here in the palace the weight of centuries

bows our necks like a wig made out of lead.

The morning lifts its curtain on a sea of strewn

wrappers, crumbs, shoes—

To live in our century is to lay waste.

A froth of bottles and bags; the chambermaid dances a jig

to invisible strings.

Miranda Gaw writes from Brooklyn. Her poems have appeared in Sybil's Garage, Goblin Fruit, Kaleidotrope, Cabinet des Fees, Sawbuck, and the Swarthmore Review.