This poem is commended in the Carol Ann Duffy challenge on Young Poets Network (YPN). The challenge was co-written and judged by Duffy expert Dr Mari Hughes-Edwards, who said of this poem, "Brilliant final lines. The bloodstain image was esp powerful but all through the poem the dramatic monologue form perfectly encapsulates Duffy’s earlier work. Although it’s a response to ‘Havisham’ I found myself thinking of course of Mary Queen of Scots but also of the feelings of Katherine of Aragon when she was acting as Regent in the early days of her marriage to Henry."


by Em Power

My weak brave husband, he was always a brittle blade,
Honour before reason, dry eyes open to the blaze of the sun,
Each letter I opened talking of dead Scots and rebels and anyone
But me. Me, empty-bellied, staring up at the night sky.
Once. Twice. Thrice. At least until that final, crumpled, yellow light arrived.
My dearest, willing to look past a slice of the future for his so-called God,
His suppositional King, oh, that handsome, spineless fool.
I was bit by thousands of snakes. I promised him every inch of the ocean
In exchange for a dais, or a bit of leeway, or a kiss (the kind we used to have.)
When he returned, dagger glinting, I waited for the soldier in him,
I found nothing but the ghost of tears in his eyes, and the red remains of a man.
I trailed a finger down his cheek, finished the job and spat at his feet.
Now he’s abandoned his wife again, left me here to sleep amble, then rot.
It’s just me, a royal ghost, a dark hallway and this damned scarlet spot.

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