Issue 173, Spring 2005
Aphra Behn is not wearing all her clothes
in some part of South America nobody knows.
Everyone is polite, and not. Maybe she left off
her petticoats, her skirts look limp. She coughs.
Of course her bosom is bare. He’s bats
about her, also noble and misunderstood—that’s
too much culture for you. His black
skin is just skin, what with his wealth, frisson,
and all those bearers and banners.
The play is predominant, the manor-
house-reach. What she makes of it—not of husbands,
not even of the rights of humans richer-than-
thou, the local gentry who scheme more
than they breed—is insolence, not to bore
us. What is real is real, she says, wearing
what he wants with Damn the insects biting.
His type tends to the ï¬‚orid—strange
how everyone speaks well of him, then how chains
become him—who says that?—and someone dies,
someone like her father who fuelled a nice
plantation with witty wives and loneliness and slaves
enough to drive the horses into pantaloons and full sleeves—
or play. Aphra grins at us, in disrepute
as always, sailing to England on a petticoat.