Today's poem is by Cherene Sherrard
The Dictator's Wife, or Mildred Aristide Prepares to Address the Congressional Black Caucus
Visionaries seldom find respite
in safe harbors of flesh and bone.
One eye ever cracked on the dream.
Their right hand chokes Damocles' sword.
You are the woman who sleeps beside
clever plotting practice.
Learn to pack light, a small overnight case, practice
abandoning all you cherish with one hour's respite.
What Yankees call carpet bags suffice. Besides,
you've learned to sleep in jewels welded with bone.
One can never be sure what time swords
might cross in front of the Banque Nationale. Dream
of Mussolini's mistress, they hung her dream
next to him. Execution requires no forethought, just practice.
Elections seldom cast the same bright aura of destiny's sword.
And so, myths. For myths, one always needs a woman's respite.
Even if American born, she will save the last meat from the bone,
will always add perishables to her valise. Besides,
you can never be sure if your place of exile will be beside
a resort or a prison. Some refuse escort, cling to their dream
of benign oligarchy, literacy, water purification, tourism, bone
china, a U.N. seat, immunizations, and a newly quilted flag. Practice
nationalism at Cabral's heels, recite Che's chants, remember respite:
a feminine touch discourages the people from taking up swords.
Dress for carnival. Make all men believe they might reign, sword
in hand. Do not be too beautiful. Women must identify: besides
myself who would be a better hostess for affairs of state, and a respite
for children, who are useful, but more often dangerous dreams.
After all, a child could inherit your carefully nurtured practice
hence ending a need for all elections. Some might have a bone
to pick, but imagine the library portraits set in herring-bone
frames, your descendants finding grandfather's sword
in the palace gardens where your personal militia practices.
Think how they will follow the heroic light beside
your son, if you have a son. If you do not, prepare to dream
another woman might steal your place as his respite.
For now, find respite in your bone
temple, dream of Winnie's words
beside your own and above all, practice.
Copyright © 2017 Cherene Sherrard All rights reserved
Autumn House Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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