by Elizabeth Sylvia
Marie Antoinette comes to see me in the meadow because
she loves the meadow, and she wants me
to admire her coiffure. Make it known, Marie’s outlandish
poufs were her own hair, not wigs, at least until her hair
began to crack like desiccated grass. I’m tallying
the drought and shaking dust off of the weeds
I won’t allow to prosper in the desert ground.
Marie’s amused by my anxieties. In place of feathers
and the naval ships she bore in life, she’s made her hair
a patch of flame that swirls around a redwood tree.
I don’t think that’s funny, I say. Her eyes
regard me from below the orange tower,
and she tells me I’m not the one who set this world
on fire. It’s all of you, drunk on the black gold
that powers gorgeous lifetimes of excess. Why should
any of us refuse what we desire now? We are the last
queens of the coming revolution and should dance.
I keep on pulling mugwort from the sandy dirt
because I want the native plants to grow and I’ve determined
they cannot compete against this rhyzomous invader.
Marie approves. See, she says, Even now you are choosing
what deserves to live, what can be beautiful.
Elizabeth Sylvia (she/her) is a writer of poems and other lists who lives with her family in Massachusetts, where she teaches high school English and coaches debate. Elizabeth’s work is upcoming or has recently appeared in Salamander, Pleiades, Soundings East, J Journal, RHINO, Main Street Rag, and a bunch of other wonderful journals. She is currently working on a verse investigation of the writer Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard.