Boots thumping toward a bend in the trail
along the dyke and I am about to be caught
in a crouch on the grassy bank, pants down,
backside in plain view, no way to change it.
A woman can’t stop and pull herself together
faster than those steps are approaching.
This thing is going to happen.
The insouciance of the teenager who would
think to give the world the moon
from a fast-moving car is a memory.
Shall I be embarrassed? No fight, no flight,
I freeze, my mouth wavering like a cartoon.
But really, what is this ivory treasure
of mine that I’m to hide from sight?
And is this such an appalling scene to avoid,
as if everyone else in the world doesn’t have
beneath the veil of clothing a bare butt
and doesn’t sometimes need an emergency squat?
Gather around you the crimson robes
of the mythic Queen of Botswana, majesty
in her body as she comes to yours, descended
from her howdah to the dry grasses of the Kalahari
for a needed moment, to wet
the cracked earth waiting for the season of rain,
this her gift to the desert plants.
Your hound like her fringed war elephant
at her side, her armed protectors avert their eyes
to watch for the black mamba
and all other foolish intruders.
Raise your royal brows and chin at the sky
over your massive domain, this broad bay
defy all mankind,
oh throw those robes open wide,
let your heavy gold arm bands catch the sun,
and finish with elegance what you must
exactly as you are
and let the hapless man in the REI outfit
who has come upon the dark Queen of Botswana
in her moment,
let that man worry about himself.
by FLORENCE SAGE