Today's poem is by Judy Brown

The Blackmailer's Wife Reads History and Considers the Nature of Guilt

After the Bourbons returned, people claimed they saw
Napoleon's face in the moon. Others caught the rigging
of his facial bones, the holes of his eyes, ghosted

on the flattened white of an egg. Myself, I've a fear of touching
a white balloon and finding my husband's head inside, of feeling
through latex, shapes I know — a nose, his forehead. Ears.

Some nights I'm out till dawn on the Astroturf. The birds
never go quiet. Napoleon is still up there, in his white tights,
pulling like a tyrant on the North Sea's guy-ropes.

I keep out of the kitchen when the caterers come — mozzarella,
lychees, meringues are ripe landscapes for mapping by generals.
Our dinner guests drink toasts with sweating hands. Afterwards, I bath.

Arabesquing over my shoulder at the mirror, I see the Emperor Hirohito
smiling bluishly through the white skin of my arse. (Later a blank canvas).
My husband says no: it was only mist passing over the security light.

You think too much, he says, still wanting me to read his palm.
We both know I could do it. Up here, clouds shred over the city,
over the river, like the sails of tall ships, only half-remembered.

Copyright © 2008 Judy Brown All rights reserved
from Poetry London
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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