Rita Dove


The Great Palaces of Versailles


Nothing nastier than a white person!
She mutters as she irons alterations
in the backroom of Charlotte's Dress Shoppe.
The steam rising from a cranberry wool
comes alive with perspiration
and stale Evening of Paris.
Swamp she born from, swamp
she swallow, swamp she got to sink again.

The iron shoves gently
into a gusset, waits until
the puckers bloom away. Beyond
the curtain, the white girls are all
wearing shoulder pads to make their faces
delicate. That laugh would be Autumn,
tossing her hair in imitation of Bacall.

Beulah had read in the library
how French ladies at court would tuck
their fans in a sleeve
and walk in the gardens for air. Swaying
among lilies, lifting shy layers of silk,
they dropped excrement as daintily
as handkerchieves . Against all rules

she had saved the lining from a botched coat
to face last year's gray skirt. She knows
whenever she lifts a knee
she flashes crimson. That seems legitimate;
but in the book she had read
how the cavaliere amused themselves
wearing powder and perfume and spraying
yellow borders knee-high on the stucco
of the Orangerie.

A hanger clatters
in the front of the shoppe.
Beulah remembers how
even Autumn could lean into a settee
with her ankles crossed, sighing
I need a man who'll protect me
while smoking her cigarette down to the very end.

Submitted: Monday, October 21, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Great Palaces of Versailles by Rita Dove )

Enter the verification code :

  • Rookie - 0 Points Colleen Courtney (5/15/2014 7:16:00 AM)

    Oh I love the story this poem tells. So much vivid description! Felt as if were experiencing the whole scene myself! Took me away to that special place! (Report) Reply

Read all 1 comments »

Trending Poets

Trending Poems

  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  4. If, Rudyard Kipling
  5. Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
  6. Church Street Bomb blast, Gert Strydom
  7. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
  8. A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
  9. The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe
  10. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda

Poem of the Day

poet Alfred Edward Housman

The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

...... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

New Poems

  1. Naat-Zaufishan Nabi Hayn, Akhtar Jawad
  2. Extension, Asit Kumar Sanyal
  3. Of the old church, Emmanuel George Cefai
  4. Who will sit when bound to lose?, Emmanuel George Cefai
  5. Jewelry of the heavens, Emmanuel George Cefai
  6. My throat sings not more, Emmanuel George Cefai
  7. To begin with, Emmanuel George Cefai
  8. Into deep light, Emmanuel George Cefai
  9. Small perversion In repetition, Emmanuel George Cefai
  10. Every day dreams, Emmanuel George Cefai
[Hata Bildir]