Jennifer Tappenden


    a true story, and familiar

Did she suspect,
as the wheels turned
and her joints popped,
that she was racked
not so much for Luther
as for Katherine Parr?

the friend of a friend
who happened to be
an inconvenient queen,
bold enough to debate
-- publicly --
the merits of banned books
with her King, the banner
of England’s own reform.

Had Anne and Katherine passed
at court?  Sensed
the braid of their fate?
The third strand was a dark mistrust
of learned women,
easily woven to suspicion
of heresy.

Did Anne know, as she was carried lame
to the stake it was a fire for Katherine,
to sear the Queen’s tongue
with an object lesson?
Her executioner, likewise caught, understood:
the small mercy he could manage
was a bag of black powder about her neck
for a quick end to Anne
and Katherine askew,
their tongues black and still.

Location: Buffalo, New York
Publications: The Buffalo News, etc.

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