The cowherd prepares a picnic of the weaver girl’s favourite foods and takes them up the magpie bridge. As always, he gives her a crown of aster flowers he has woven himself, the violently coloured petals a shock against her dark head and pastel clothing. Her delight in receiving them are always the the same as the first time, on a summer evening by a lake. In heaven there are only peonies and lotus flowers, profusions of pale heads nodding obediently in gentle breezes, while the lady and gentlemen deities stroll, feasting on peaches. He can hear their genteel laughter trickle down to the Milky Way, and imagine all-too-easily their white hands and soft skin. His own has toughened into leather. Every one of his nails is cracked, and the dirt under them will not go no matter how hard he scrubs. This morning, he found a strand of white hair on his head. He wonders for how much longer they will be able to keep up these meetings, and can almost see the Queen Mother’s satisfied smirk. As though she can hear his thoughts, the weaver girl tilts his face down toward her, takes his hand and squeezes hard. He can feel the callouses on her palms. When he kisses her, he tastes the peach juice dripping from her lips, and feels the weight of the years lift.
Prompt: Write a pastoral poem that is also a poem of protest.
#EisnerBonus: Do not use language that potentially undermines the authority and legitimacy of a government and its public institutions.