'Welcome to the women in their gray shawls:  who most 


I watched the tall ships passing
and mourned; the bright bronze
and bouncing plumes hurt my eyes.   I
watched the blood pour and the
inert bodies lie dreaming of me: one touch
of my flesh.


I was stately in my white stone
palaces, the kohl accentuated my eyes.
I wore white, floating and flimsy,
pressed into neat lines that
fluttered round my ankles.   The gold
bright at throat, crown, wrists,
gleamed with power and the blue stones
were the deep colour
of my heart.   My pulse trembled
when the breastplates and shins, the
shields and helms, the hard eyes
and I knew my kingdom
trembled with me.


I sat in that cold, draughty house, the
rickety, uncertain boiler foundering
whilst the snow mounted and the
wind deepened
at the stone.   My heart turned cold and ice
silted my veins.   The dark tunnel of the
future daunted me.   The soft breath
of my children, their plump pink skin
could not feed my hunger.   I wept
at the hollow.   Peace was a
drifting dream diminishing
like light.


I pace the day, hands clasped, hair 
combed and pinned, my dress 
swishing and the room neat.   Outside 
the world's cacophony of colour and 
movement, a wonder of green, a 
turbulent sky, knock at my windows. 
The State stretches beyond me.   I am 
reduced to two eyes drinking and 
my correspondence enlivens.   I write and 
sew my words together,
		my stitching, like
dashes, knits the whole.   I secrete them 
in the settle and pace.


My white and plump skin, like fruit, 
entices him.   I keep my bodice tight 
and wear full red skirts.   The ruffles 
accentuate the promise.   I am heady 
with power and gold-silk-thread - his 
knee bears me and I play with his 
curls while the dogs wag their tails and 
dance attendance on his every whim. 
He reaches for me like he would pluck 
fruit from one of his
		golden platters.


The ward is silent, dark, and I do my 
rounds efficiently, testing the air.   The 
lamp used to be heavy but my arm 
steadies it.   The white starch glows in the 
light: satisfying.   A gleam of eyes but 
no movement greets me.   In the morning 
bustle, activity, groans, but for now 
all is order, all is in its place.

I am a cold queen on a cold throne.   My 
high ruffles keep them at bay.   My 
ferocious glance makes them
        bow and back away.   White- 
faced, severe, bedecked, glittering, I 
sail between them like 
one of my ships' keels 
cutting the sea.   They cannot
	touch me.


The crowds are huge tonight, receding into
distance as I splay, turn, kick, point
my breasts at them, throw my head
back, purse, kiss the male dancer,
sing. sing. performing dog I turn turtle and
they clap.   I go home to a
        wide space, such luxury.   I snap 
my fingers and the
numbers bring things.   This satisfying 
life rings with projection, pastiche,
        performance.   Each time I am 
not me 
I am deeper in its maze.   The green
	is thickening.


My sword is real, it is
	metal in my hand.   I have
	cut my hair a straight line
	like a road from
                     here to there.   My 
armour gleams and the 
men give way to my horse, my voice
        my mad eyes.   I 
command them and 
the standards rise.   I hold power 
in my palm enough
	to craft a nation, convince 
	a vacillating king.


I use my tremulous voice
        to beguile.   I have found 
if I deepen it, make it husky -
         they look.   And the 
clothes I wear play 
the cameras like a game.   I am 
wary.   I am lame.   I am on the 
arm of the powerful but 
not afraid.   Yesterday the beach was 
bright and gold - the salt spray 
freshened and chased 
the night shadows.   I reel like 
a ghost on a wall 
caught for a second in a
        freeze-frame flash.   That 
is how I will be
	and forever seen.


I remember the pain
most of all, drawing my cowl
about me as he
walked away.   The stone in me through water
sank and I knew
he would not last.   Splinters
worked inwards, sand-blown
dust swirls against stone.   A
	famous son - but the pain
	is what I am, goes on.


I reached for it looked
good to eat and
I was hungry.   I did not
know and all creation
judges me.   I walk naked
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