Empress for a Month by Agnes Lam

Picture from here

Empress for a Month
–Agnes Lam


Did you know,
our Empress Dowager,
when you were insisting
on taking funds
from the national treasury
meant for the protection of the people
to build the Summer Palace
for your personal treasure
that one day
the fruits of your labour,
or at least your imagination,
could be enjoyed
by anyone?
They can sleep where you slept,
bathe where you bathed,
gossip in your covered walkways,
frolick in your lake,
smell your flowers of every season,
chase your butterflies or their descendants
and eat a reproduction
of your thirty-course dinner
even for lunch…
For a certain fee,
so I heard,
anyone can be imperial.
No questions about lineage or
nationality will be asked.
But at twenty thousand a month
(or was it ten?)
even in Renminbi,
the Money of the People,
it is still
not quite for the people,
the Chinese people.
This poem was written by Agnes Lam, a Cha contributor, in 1998. The poem has been posted, along other pieces, on the Kubrick Poetry blog. Read more here.

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