JANE DUDLEY
(beheaded the twelfth of February, 1554)

by on June 1, 2013 :: 0 comments

Palace or prison, today,
Outside a stone fortress,
Ravens and I shiver
To winter’s hard imagining.
Her summer’s day,
The tenth of July, 1553.
A nine day wonder
Is unkind. Her queenly ways
Were perfect. I’m sure
Summer has gone –
Who can remember?
Perhaps on a double-decker
Or sitting in a taxi
There is someone
With descendant knowledge.
I shake at the thought:
A cold axe, on a cold day.
My scalp shrinks, the year
Gone crisp. Hard frost
Shrivels the impaled head of
Hydrangea, a silver portcullis
Of ice threatens my departure.
The sun ebbs and engines pull
Long ships passed long-handled
Wharves. From up here, the river
Trembles quietly below
The poised bridge.
Watching it fall
Fills an age.
Underneath, as the bite
Shudders into place, a barge
Christened ‘Hope’, moves downsteam.
Escapes the sudden shadow.

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