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My father ordered: "Go and meet with him —
what have you got to lose? Just take a shower
and dress to kill — Pollion's a man of power
after all, and you a jolie girl, slim —
unlike his wife, whose famed face is so grim
that your sweet smile will turn it truly sour.
So go my dear, and sacrifice an hour
bleating his agenda out, hymn by hymn."
You know me well by now — what Daddy said
is to me law. I showered, dressed, obeyed
and went and talked, then dutifully displayed
my versatility, and when I shed
my woolen underwear, a fleece of O's
rolled off his lips and reached my twinkle toes.

I got the job — 'assistant' to the boss,
received the keys to every office lock.
And every day he let me wind his clock
so he could stain his suit with shiny sauce.
One time his wife charged in like a rhinoceros,
but didn't bother to pretend to be in shock —
she didn't even glance at me, but took the sock
thrown limp upon the chair — she wasn't cross,
just said: "You must be careful dear, be sure
to keep your love rites more discreet,"
and left him flaccid, tip-toeing on her feet,
her shoulders shrugged and manner quite demure.
Hastily, Pollion picked up his scattered clothes
and dressed; he was jittery, I suppose

but later that same week returned to me
with flowers, steak tartare, champagne, baguettes,
his throbbing manhood kicking pirouettes
before he took me to the opera to see
Macbeth. When later on the maitre d'
pretended not to notice me, I was upset
and lashed out at his lack of etiquette.
Pollion then petted me and said: "Marie,
the special thing we have is just for us,"
then on my cuff he latched a diamond watch
and in so doing rubbed his bulging crotch
against my arm. I didn't make a fuss
and took him later in the car — one knows
one's place and duty, doesn't one? I chose

to be with him, and I enjoyed it too:
every day I'd tell my daddy all I learnt:
the phone calls overheard, the papers burnt,
leaks and schemes and late night rendezvous.
I always hung around, the staff all knew
though I was not there too, it seems, they turned
away as I appeared, but weren't concerned
if I would speak to them: "Ma'mselle Elue?
How can we help you please? Je vous en prie."
I realized the various duties of my job:
always look great, pretend to be a snob
and never bump into Madame d'Arcy.
This went on smoothly, no one would expose
Pollion d'Arcy's affairs — to poke one's nose

into the private life of any pair
would be considered just as grave a breach
of etiquette as picking it in public. But to impeach
a head of state for having an affair?Impossible! Not to mention ordinaire.
But this nearly happened. Apréz en speech
about France's mighty cultural reach
an opposition member took the chair
and j'accused Pollion of a great sin:
not fornication — which they all would bless —
but that he let it leak into the press!
France the fragrant, multifoliate Rose
was being dragged into tabloid press by those

'Americains,' whose crude and lean cuisine
could make one puke, just as their Puritan morals
would have all flatulence disguised as floral.
The member did admit "that it was mean
of the reporter, (one Lindsay Dean
from the obscure but nosy 'DC. Choral'),
to print what should have strictly been kept oral,
thus causing esthetic problems unforeseen,
but since the truth is only what it seems —
now that it seems to be so, so it is;
just as Champagne can lose its frisky fizz —
once this occurs it's not worth trois centimes
and must be poured away, alas, deposed."
Now at these words a mighty uproar rose,

Madame d'Arcy ran sobbing to the press:
"Je suis the vestal victim of a vicious,
calculating tart, ambitious and malicious."
And clutching at her flattering widow's dress,
Pollion d'Arcy was eager to confess
how he was subpoenaed by the salacious
charms of youth ... then he churned out factitious
lies to all who'd listen, of his distress,
of my uncouth behavior — my father too,
was shocked to learn I was no virgin —
he being such a well respected surgeon.
So you tell me, what was I to do?
A patriot, I left La France and chose
the States, where emperors wear no clothes.

      — Peter Anson