The Ballad of Donna Quixote


I want to be
a Viennese lady
eating up Art in a cloche.

I want to walk
down the Champs-?lys?es
with a husband who drives in a Porsche.

I want to be posh & benign
at the very same time
& to survive entirely on spinach –

but I’m Donna Quixote
so as likely as not
my dreams are all there is in it.


My Sancha Panzetta
my faithful my friend
she’s round she’s short & she’s homely –

she’ll never leave me
alone in the lurch
nor will my car, Rosinante.

I want to propose
with the tip of my nose
to my gallant my handsome Don Duce –

but I’ve learned like a wallflower
to wait in the wings
till his stirrups spur him

to send me a rose
to tell me I’m comely
to say I’m his only.


And in the meantime –


I want to know love
like the back of my palm
I want regents and rajahs to woo me –

To have portraits by painters
Of numberless charm.
I want Cleopatra to sue me.

I want to float down the Nile
in my very own barge
whose oarsmen make off with my booty –

I want to be loved
by the man in the moon
who’ll say simply, my Donna, my Beauty.


I want to know poets
to speak in their tongues
& converse with the mighty & learned

I want to move mountains
all on my own & if lost
be found by Saint Bernard.


I want to have style
elan & pizzazz.
I want to be kind

most refined
I want to be mother of millions.

I want wandering souls
to find rest in my tent.
I want them to say

I’m better, Ms Quixote
for your tea & biscuit –
you’re sort of a Florence

though without a lamp –
thanks very much
for my time in your camp.


I want to live life.
I want to be raucous & wild
or demure & most mild –

but I’m Donna Quixote
& my dreams are all
windmills and tulips.

from Only One Angel (University of Otago Press, 2001), © Jan Kemp 2001, used by permission of the author.

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