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The Courtier Comments on Ladies

Mary Moore





Make no mistake:

For pomp and concealment, they require

state-sponsored shows; a courtly ambience;

the penitents outside in itchy hoods,

compulsively working beads, being good.

Nor do they quake in their laced-up glove-

skin boots, but learn to enjoy a modified

liberty, hiding coquetry for love:

the aptly covered wink at the fair haired boy,

the tip of the head, the gowns fashioned

to suggest an ankle, décolletage and coy

exposure as they bend towards the action––

the play, the joust—so they evoke desire,

a nuanced simulacrum of fire.


Mistresses of half compliance,

eyes cast down, they form alliances

that gain spice from danger.  We versify

praise, as much for our as for their delight.

We catalog skin tones and body parts and sing

the permutations of lips, Englishing

the traditions we mime from Europe.

We find as we write desire, we give it scope:

But as Leicester found, even the best heraldry

can’t shield you from the Queen’s loving eye

once she’s aroused. So we rein-in, bridled

like beribboned horses, the manes braided.


As for the ladies, they do best if they hide,

feigning the secret under fluid

taffeta––the skill to take pleasure

and make it.  By that, we take our measure.






The above CRAFT is titled "Romantic Glimmer Beige Capelet with Flower" and by ForYouDesign. Read the Artist Statement here.


Mary Moore has published most recently in magazines including Connotations Press, 2river view, American Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, and Nimrod.  She teaches poetry and Renaissance literature at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.





A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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