Dolley Madison’s Chagrin

The camera captures
the President’s widow
where the British failed:

a far cry from your youthful daring,
your political genius—
fleeing the White House
with General Washington’s portrait,
its canvas coiled in your carriage,
just ahead of the flames.

Now, stark-eyed, poorer, discomfited,
ever in the same mournful dress,
you eye the living,
asking us
if we can keep the promise of our dear Republic
from the album of the dead.

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