Paradise for the Portuguese Queen

Benjamin Ivry

The Queen of Portugal has gone mad. Her madness consists of thinking herself in heaven. But heaven is below what she expected. She wanders around muttering, ‘Hmph!’

Hugo, Things Seen

Who has seen the sunflower has seen the sun,
says Camoens in The Lusiade, but I hardly
expected to see my duenna and her hairy mole,
nor my maidservant dwarf, malodorous
as ever, nor my already-bearded Infante, not now
not here. Had I only known that life is a sphere
of reality beyond which nothing lies ... Hmph!
But holy Peter and his clichéd key
are just toys for the piñata. I can see there’s
no Gate and no up, down, or Purgatory,
no serafin with polychromed wings
like the ornithologically exact Van Eyck
that still hangs in my toilet,
Heaven to the smallest feather –
No, I cannot bear this Paradise,
but to abdicate? Hmph! Speaking biblically,
only two upstarts have been to Eden and back,
their names Eve and Adam. Oh yes,
I forgot – and the snake. And the third
to escape was the snake.