“We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto,”
She said offhand while looking out
Her penthouse view of Emerald City,
Plush pillows puffed around her
And her little dog, to whom she
Addressed droll commentary
With a slow rotation of her right wrist
To punctuate pontification.
Still, while waxing loquacious on goings-on
In Theatre, and Opera, and Art Museums, and her
Cavalier descriptions of roots gnarled deep beneath
The U.D.C. and D.A.R., much deeper than the Pilgrims’ feet,
To Anglican priests and second-sons of minor English lords
Who thrust themselves into Virginia wilderness
As they would the milkmaid’s daughter,
Her learnéd discourse sometimes
Skips the light distracted, betrayed by words like
Git, acrost, or Worshington.
“There is no place like home,” they say,
But Home is where the heart is
And her Heart is caged so deep within
Nick Chopper’s, not Pandora’s, chest
It shows no hope of Liberation,
Sign of Restoration,
Hint of Jubilation. Think:
No more hardscrabble eggs and bacon
Served up on drab mismatched dishware
But Eggs Benedict on a bed of kale
Atop Royal Doulton plates;
Not Momma’s calloused hands smoothing
Her gingham apron around her birth-battered body
But the tanned and scented man hands
On back and shoulders, glutes and thighs
The sighs of sage and burbling digital nature sounds,
An anxious time of relaxation.
Buffeting the scarecrow of It Could Have Been
The cousins, friends, and classmates
Who stayed stuck in the monochrome Great Plains
Of Dorothy Gale’s sound stage Hollywood
That made Capote’s blood run cold,
The dried out dust bowl Steinbeck’s Okies fled,
The pale, bleak landscape America flies over
On her way from coast to coast.
The Empress forgets there’s more to Life
Than penthouse views and city lights.
She forgets those Kansas greens and golds, and
Reds and yellows and richer azure cloud corrals
Than ever could translate to black and white.
Her lionhearted pride of purpose
Growling braggadocio rings hollow:
How the Mighty—How they’ve fallen
Mene mene, all she wrote.
Somewhere beneath her, emerald streets
Encircle some bucolic park here planted
That the teeming masses of the
Greatest City in the World
Might tread the tracks of the Almighty
When Morning has broken
By Dawn’s early light.
But the Empress in the penthouse
Lies with eyes blocked from the sun
Preferring neon nights to over-cultured gardens
Filled with flowers no one eats
She has seen the real thing and
You can’t go home again.