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This poem is taken from PN Review 17, Volume 7 Number 3, January - February 1981.

Dreams of Power Alison Brackenbury

I / LEGENDS

Five winter days were lit by the slow thaw:
a light space in the window's frost shows us
my grandmothers: King Henry's threadbare niece;
Elizabeth in richest black, who crossed
from merchant's bed to Earl's; unloving looks
must have snicked between them, as they walked
the gold-edged carpets in the smoking light.
Margaret's son lay coughing in his bed
with the shy girl, my mother, sent 'to nurse'
thrust in the scented room and the doors closed.

the cold of those five days is in my heart:
old eyes appraising and the whispering.
My bed's long curtains with their yellow flowers
hiss serpent's breath, soft perfuming
which they laid round the young Elizabeth
...


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