“the end of the county cheese princess’ reign,” by Daphne Gottlieb

By

the end of the county cheese princess’ reign
 
Being the County Cheese Princess
has meant the world to me.
This position has taught me time
 
management, professionalism and poise.
After I was crowned, I visited the next baby born
and brought a cheese basket with fruit.
 
Fruit has no princess so I became
the fruit ambassador as well
on a moment’s notice. I have travelled
 
the entire world on a cheese plate.
I have heard Sardinian-American men swear
over Casu Marzu, the maggot cheese,
 
seen fights break out in close families
over Milbenkase, seen women faint
over Stinking Bishop’s pungent, powerful rind.
 
In this almost-morning’s dark, when the fairground
is still sleeping off a carny’s drunk,
I wear a gown the color of faded American.
 
I stand penned with the midnight cows.
I public-speak to them:
We have travelled a long road together, my friends.
 
Thank you, thank you. I wave to their nods.
We have come so far, but now you must
welcome the next princess.
 
She will be good to you, I say.
I say, she will.
The girl with the orange dress
 
like mine and the crown like mine
and the smile like mine
will take very good care of you.
 
Being the County Cheese Princess
has meant the world to me.
This position has taught me poise.
 
The cows sway and low. The spotted calf nurses.
One cow licks her nose. One eats hay.
They have already forgotten my name.

Daphne Gottlieb


From time to time, The Rumpus publishes new poems. Check out this multimedia collection of poetry we've published. More from this author →