Ben Franklin in Paris, 1783
Renown aside, he was a lech, though not
the quid-pro-quo of Harvey Weinstein's kind.
He earned the nickname Cher Papa, a sign
that he endeared himself, that he was smart
enough to blur the line yet keep it taut.
He liked them young and cute, with clever minds
for banter, and as he lured them to his side,
his joie de vivre returned and was his blind spot,
as was his poor wife, Deborah, alone for years.
He'd write to say he'd soon be back, but stayed
abroad, despite her stroke, since she'd refused
inoculation for their son. His fears
for Franky's death by pox came true. Betrayed,
Ben punished with his absence, as great men do.
Marybeth Rua-Larsen lives in Massachusetts, and her poems, flash fiction and reviews have been published widely, most recently in Magma and Orbis. She won the Luso-American Fellowship for the DISQUIET International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal and was a Hawthornden International Fellow in Scotland in 2019.