Prima donna M. W. DAVIS

Prima donna



When the President appeared on TV

she stood, purportedly out of respect;

but a handful of onlookers could see

the flash of something malicious in her


eyes—pride, an unnerving loyalism.

The squeaky new anthem peeled from speakers,

hidden by posters, embroiled in some

polyester bunting wrapped on the rail.


The podium’s just for decoration;

it’s broadcast live from somewhere deep in the

capital. He won’t show up in person

in this neighbourhood—her own, as it were.


Nor has she ever been any different.

When General What’s-his-name was shot, she

called her mother crying, quite confident

anarchists would be taking the streets soon.


When the junta was declared last April

she sang at the inauguration—sang

the same tune that, sixteen months and several

parades later, hasn’t been broken in.


That night she told the President it’d been

the happiest day of her life, better

than ‘96’s Eugene Onegin

in Boston, her first standing ovation.


You couldn’t understand it; just a sort

of prejudice, or an intuition.

Anyway, she’s their last—and best—resort:

if no one else, the angel sings along.


M. W. DAVIS is Poetry Editor of the Quarterly Review


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