Do I move through stone walls? No
I glide within them -- a shaft
of gleaming satin. Sometimes
you hear my gown rustle, sometimes not.
But I have heard many
confuse my reign with hers -- Bloody Mary
first daughter of the heretic king.
Both queens, we shared the same name
and faith. Close to the breast, we held
a crucifix, our secret letters and sins, a lover's head,
( My brave James of Bothwell.)
Yet, the killings were hers. Pikes and swords
moved from field to town, stained
barn and tower scarlet. My hands were clean;
they clutched heather.
Do I breathe letting the tapestry flinch,
its lords and ladies lick dust? Perhaps,
but at one point, I also shared with her
the most grievous sigh - the womb
befallen to an empty bowl. Hers
held the belief of a child
that stopped the menses, swelled the belly
until her condition waned
in truth. Nothing was there --
except the shadow of want.
Mine broke into sudden spasms
then blood. The twins' pulse
fell silent, their presence left
as pale moths to gnaw
holes in my voice. And I sobbed
killing the light.
Notes-- This poem was written in the voice of Mary Stewart, Queen of
, reflecting on how her legacy is different
than that of her English cousin, Mary
Tudor, first daughter of Henry the eighth. The latter was called "Bloody Mary" because her
brief reign on the English throne oversaw numerous persecution/ deaths of
protestant clergymen, scholars and rebels. Though her father had separated from
The Catholic Church in Scotland ,
proclaiming himself the head of the nation' s church, she tried to restore Catholicism
to the country and its people by force. She married late in life and was
desperate to conceive a male heir to keep her half sister, Elizabeth the First, from ascending the throne after her death. In
her late thirties, married to Philip of
Spain, she thought she was finally pregnant. All the signs were there,
ceased menstruation, swollen abdomen, morning sickness etc. However, in time,
her physical symptoms diminished and her body returned to its normal state. It
was declared a false pregnancy. Rome
Mary Stewart, who was much younger and ascended the Scottish throne after Mary Tudor's death was also Catholic but tolerated protestant followers within her realm. She produced one heir to succeed the throne and then miscarried twins by her lover and later 3rd husband, James, Earl of Bothwell. She was eventually convicted of conspiring to kill the British queen and rule
as well as .
Her death warrant was signed by Scotland in 1587 and
she was executed shortly after.
Throughout history and literature, she has been portrayed as a beautiful, courageous and vulnerable
heroine unlike the other Mary known
for her brutal treatment of protestants and
dissidents of the Papal state. Elizabeth
My poem is , of course, fictitious in its character's reflections and thoughts; but was inspired by listening to a poem , over at poetryfoundation.org, called "Bloody Mary by April Bernard. On the June podcast, she read her poem and mistakenly said that this was about the infamous queen, Bloody Mary, Mary Stewart, Queen of Scots, when she should of said, Mary Tudor. The mistake is easy enough to make but when branding a murderous reputation on a queen who was compassionate and a victim of political ambition and power-play, it gives thought to what the ghost of this beautiful sovereign might feel and think. So my poem gives her a chance to speak about it.