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

	I   ~   Helen
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.

	II   ~   Cleopatra
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.

	III   ~   Sylvia
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.

	IV   ~   Emily
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.

	V   ~   Nell

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.

	VI   ~   Florence
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.
	VII   ~   Elizabeth
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.

	VIII   ~   Madonna
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.

	IX   ~   Jeanne
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.

	X   ~   Marilyn
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.

	XI   ~   Mary
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.

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