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    What Great Grief Has Made the Empress Mute  
 
Kissing God Goodbye (June Jordan)


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  Because it was raining outside the palace
Because there was no rain in her vicinity

Because people kept asking her questions
Because nobody ever asked her anything

Because marriage robbed her of her mother
Because she lost her daughters to the same tradition

Because her son laughed when she opened her mouth
Because he never delighted in anything she said

Because romance carried the rose inside a fist
Because she hungered for the fragrance of the rose

Because the jewels of her life did not belong to her
Because the glow of gold and silk disguised her soul
Because nothing she could say could change the melted
     music of her space
Because the privilege of her misery was something she could
     not disgrace
Because no one could imagine reasons for her grief
Because her grief required no imagination
Because it was raining outside the palace
Because there was no rain in her vicinity

Dedicated to the Empress Michiko and to Janice Mirikitani

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Excerpted from Kissing God Goodbye by June Jordan. Copyright © 1997 by June Jordan. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.