by Grace Cavalieri

I Can Think Of Far Worse Things

Than to be a governess –
Saying “that’s that” and hustling children
To the bath –
Oh yes, far worse things …
Like prostitution, for example,
Or embroidering, for that matter…
Or marrying someone I do not love.
And although I’ve never had the pox,
And one eyelid droops a little,
I am not ugly. If I lack sparkle
It’s just because
There’s such a narrow light in this room.
Do people think I should be a squirrel or rabbit?
In the shed eating wood? Unworthy of my work?
No, with twelve guineas saved
One could start her own school,
Or buy some self respect,
Or even start a dowry.
If I have to work for people whose
Fortune was not made in this lifetime,
Then I will tend to them sweetly,
Saving this beautiful handwriting for night.

Poems in the Voice of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
Jacaranda Press, 2004.