Published By Cherry Grove Collections, 2005

Catherine Of Aragon, November 4, 1535

The moon overtakes the trees,
awash in false light,
and the ravens breed fiercely in the eaves
of Kimbolton castle.
I hear the small ticking of their tongues
when they kiss.

My heart continues its fall to ground
until the young horseman,
come from so far,
knocks it away
in a single sideways lunge,
his mare kicking
it into the moat.

It floats there for days,
nearly agnostic,
drained of its blood.

The sluggish water,
infected with mud
collects in its chambers,
unnerved by such emptiness.

See it move under the bridge,
transparent, depleted,
a brief humility on the water.

Jane Seymour, January 12, 1537
For Pat

I love best the one tree in the garden that dies daily.

A low hanging monument to God
that will not lift itself,
I wonder if the air around it is infected,
or the birds
with hemlock on their breath,
breathe there.

A piece of loose bark
folds into itself
like the tiny hand of a dead baby.

Cut the tree down,
and it will come back as a voice.
You can hear it
carried along
when the wind is high.

It's the same sound a child makes
coming up for breath
in a pool of deep water.

The tree that is the voice
tells the garden it's gone missing,
but the only reply the garden knows
is the springing of new life.

Anne of Cleves, January 17, 1540

A blind man painted my portrait,
who sold it to a deaf man
who gave it to the king.
When he sent for me, I apologized for the discrepancy,
explaining I could not alter the shape of my face,
nor would it give me pleasure to appear
as any other woman.
He ordered the chamber maid to sew
a small pouch made of silk for my head,
and when that did not take,
he made adamantine of his heart.
I remember a single swollen vein
protruding from his forehead,
where he held his anger and his fear of me
as he laid me out
to muster himself to the task,
only to cast a shadow
over my face with his hand.

Katherine Howard, February 13, 1542

Maelstrom at the center of the oak
You would not know it
Only a whisper as the bark falls

Birds pick it up and bring it back
to start their babies
in a small dry place

Silence the epicenter of the bird
Around it chatter to hide what is true

Oak is the shoulder in the field
and the tight naked elm stands fingering the sky

People are talking around my head
and the oak creaks its arms fat and wide
in the wind

People are talking all around my head
as it falls