Poems of the Week

Une Exagération

by Eddie Aderne

“Five years ago, Jeanne Pouchain was declared dead by a French court. …
Pouchain has spent more than three and a half years engaged in an existential battle to prove
to the French authorities … that she is very much alive.”
The Guardian

The final judgement of the court
Declares Madame Pouchain is morte;
An unexceptionable lot
If it were true, but it is not.
For three long years she’s vainly tried
To demonstrate she has not died:
This claim cannot be reconciled
With forms and papers signed and filed.
Like anybody not alive,
She cannot travel, work, or drive,
And people who do not exist
Are stricken from the pension list.
Thus Madame P., like Joseph K.
Throughout The Trial (or Le Procès),
Is dwelling in un vrai cauchemar,
With compensations few and far;
The case is irksome to the max.
Though death, it’s true, remits all tax,
And with no carte d’identité,
She lacks, besides, the means to pay,
Yet still the brave Madame Pouchain
Indominably fights her coin;
There’s really little to be said
For being animately dead.