POLLY PEABODY

Pretty Polly Peabody
matron and mother,
gone off to skip on the sun,
this death dance
you’ve practiced so long,
rehearsing your steps
to precision.

Thirteen years
too long to wait,
while you had tea
with his mother,
your lover husband
called in your understudy,
blew out her brains
instead of yours.

No flights to the sun
Pretty Polly,
no long leaps
through the Boston sky.

Poets and zealots
an unreliable lot,
you’re left
with old contracts
and the haunting
smell of orchids.

(Polly, as she nicknamed herself, received the first U.S. patent for the brassiere.  She was the daughter of a prominent New England family and married to a Peabody when she met the poet Harry Crosby. Their affair was scandalous for the 1920s.  He  threatened suicide if she wouldn’t marry him, eventually she did.   They lived a lavish expatriate lifestyle, which included drugs, alcohol, an open marriage, and a suicide pact. Together they founded Black Sun Press, publishing Hemingway, Joyce, Eliot, and Pound, among others.  Harry had numerous affairs before ending his life in a murder suicide with a young woman.)

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