The inherent distaste for “Austrian snakes” clung
to the tongues of each Louis in turn.
In France, it was assumed that a Hapsburg woman
was a mauvais payer,
an ill-fated hand.

Wound by the intentions of female politicians,
a counter-melody was proposed-
composed for Maria Antonia to out-perform
the catchy tune of “Austro-phobia,”
a score pregnant with dissonance.

She is folded to the floor of Versailles’ foyer,
arms pressed firmly around her ankles.
She rocks a steady rhythm there. Steady
as when mother used to hum softly in the evening.
This was her debut, her duty
to tumble into a love less marriage.

She stands-
Maria Antonia.

Lilac satin cascading past her tiny mid-drift
& bubbling over her hips,
the lace trails from the crown of her head
past the backs of her primrose knees.
Peering around the entrance to la Salle de l’Opera
no orange blossoms meet her virgin eyes.

She stands-
Maria Antonia.

Whispers ensue as privileged peasants begin to caress
the strings of borrowed violas and a foreign harp.
Maria recognizes the tune Plaisir d’Amour humming
against her ribcage. The words are absent
but she hiccups a chuckle
at her memory of them:
The pain of love lasts a lifetime


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