The Prince and the Poplars

The prince is waving good-bye. Good-bye Prince,
we shout as he ascends the steps of his coach,
Good-bye! Then he is gone with a contagion
of hooves pock-pocking the ground, and we, left
to our plaguey families and yet one
more season of disappointing crops, wave
good-bye. And just when we thought he would stay

with us awhile, meet the cousins, drink
punch or tea with us all day, our pinkies
extended, our faces a cultivated
euphemism. Good-bye! The Prince comes down
once a year, mostly—well, he simply comes by,
and we gather to him—a brilliant host
clad in our yearly best, our boots scraped clean,

our hair slicked flat as in courting— and meet
the coach from which he steps mumbling
his few words about the weather, while our tongues
form a few thick words of greeting,
So good to meet you Prince. So good . . .
And though we never get the chance to speak,
we bow our heads to him deferentially.