Consulting an Astrologer in My 34th Year Without Love

Derrick Austin

“Venus in the sixth house rules your chart.

House of Illness. House of Labor. House of Small Animals.

Where Mars rejoices. Mala Fortuna.” The Château de Malmaison

comes to mind. Joséphine, divorced from Napoleon,

ordered her estate decorated in a neoclassical style,

martial and controlled unlike his brain and gut,

those thrones of lust. Red velvet chairs with gold legs

she chose for her bedroom, an empress’s war tent.

Like my Venus in her house of misfortune,

I prefer lamps to overhead fluorescent lights

and grow fiddle-leaf figs in large stone pots.

I am called laughter-loving or the Black One.

I am hardy and resistant to privations—the stars

still shine—replacing one longing for another.

Derrick Austin is the author of Tenderness, winner of the 2020 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, and Trouble the Water.
Originally published:
April 1, 2024


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