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Poetry #5
(published Mid-year, 2000)
President Lincoln Never Wore a Turtleneck Sweater
by Francine DuBois

(first published at the Postmodern Village)

But he wore Mary Todd's petticoats
Late at night while she cried herself to sleep.
Through that role-playing, he escaped from the public eye.
Behind those whiskers, Abe only wanted to release
Fears of division and dissolution. Got to keep it all together—
His wife, his head, his country.

It's not as if he turned into a fairy princess
(no matter what Steven Douglas might say),
But the feel of Mary's petticoats let him pretend, if just for a moment,
That it was okay for a president to cry, to sob into his rough hands,
That the loss of one son—his own—could matter in the midst of
So many dead, so many other parents collapsing under
The heavy weight of separation. But he longed for togetherness,
The secret cohesion of his crossed legs in a dress,
A blanket of ruffles to protect him from bristles and bullets.

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