Pauvre Marie Détruit, by Lauren Rubin

Pauvre petite Marie

An invented nom de guerre

For an invented girl

Stripped of coquettish liés

And smallpoxed sisters

Before her.

Destined to marry a King

Poor maman, I made you build me.

Can you destroy me too?


Of course you can

And this pauvre little Hapsburg

Out of space and time

Dogless et Française

Always yearning for

Sa vie pastorale


But that hand-spun lace is plus chèr

To scrub off

The excrement of the pauvre.

Who will scrub the goat shit

From my Petit Trianon?


I made you build this?

Will you please destroy it, too?


I am the shepherdess

Leading le peuple

Away from the barricade

Straight to the breadlines

I am but a girl

I built something lovely despite you

Don’t you dare destroy it, too.


Cet homme, he loves the riddle

Of locks and keys

Mechanical bits and bobs

But I am organic

Species away from brass and gold

But I am your problem

I am your defective lock

And you built me

Built votre femme

You will break me down

You will destroy me, too


This vie pastorale is

Simpler than men


Simpler than politique

Than Amerique

Than allegiance

Than gratitude

Than égalité

Than paternité

Than fraternité


Et quoi pour les mères?

Et quoi pour les sœrs?

Where is the égalité for them?


Oh, we’ll be here

At la Conciergerie

With our skills in

Latin, French, German, English



And all things of lovely

Perpetual unimportance


I am the patron saint of unimportance

The patron saint of excess

The patron saint of excuses

The patron saint of pauvre excuses

The patron saint of ingratitude

Of being the wrong Hapsburg in

The wrong France

At the wrong time


I never said “then let them eat cake”


I never forgot that they had no bread


Even as the bare and paltry linen dragged in goat shit

Screaming “they still go without bread”

I ate the guillotine

Which, to many, was such cake

I built me

Et puis je me suis détruit aussi

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