Royal Wedding

by Susan McLean

We wheel them out, the sacrificial pair,
not in a tumbril but a gilded carriage,
to sate the millions watching on the air —
but it’s no slaughter, just a royal marriage.

They’re stand-ins for our fantasies of glory,
romance, and opulence, their own small dreams
dwarfed by the rigid scaffolding of story,
their “is” encrusted with bejeweled “seems.”

Later, when the telephoto lens
captures each fleeting frown, rolled eye, or wince,
we’ll revel in their misery, as pens
dissect the festering home life of the prince.
But what are monarchs for, if not to slake
our thirst for watching crystal dream-homes break?

Susan McLean teaches English at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her poems have recently appeared in First Things, Measure, Think Journal, and Light Quarterly. Her first book of poems, The Best Disguise, won the 2009 Richard Wilbur Award.

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Pat Jones
Published 2 January 2011