To Marie Antoinette, from a New Mother Who Didn’t Get to Stay in Bed 18 Days after Giving Birth

And there were stairs
and they were steep and had to be

climbed to soak in the tub, to lie down.

Snow to be shoveled between feedings.

I stood in the kitchen, wanting
a hand to cup, warm bread and a peach
in season. Fell back

on what could be made easy.

      No tray.
      No flower in a bud vase.

      No baby brought to me in bed, to nurse.

I took the treads slow
so as not to stumble.

 

Author’s Note: Antonia Fraser’s biography informed the series this poem came from. What struck me most in researching Antoinette was how different her life and lifestyle were from mine, and though there were some similarities between us – we weren’t/aren’t that fond of the color orange – those similarities weren’t enough to alter my belief that possessing the kind of wealth she did offers power and prestige and comfort, sometimes to an unimaginable degree.

Kelly R. Samuels is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She is the author of Words Some of Us Rarely Use (Unsolicited) and Zeena/Zenobia Speaks (Finishing Line). Her poems have appeared in Salt Hill, The Carolina Quarterly, Small Orange Journal, RHINO, and Long Leaf Review. She lives in the Upper Midwest.

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