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CATHERINE OF ARAGON / Karen Fish January 1536 It was cold in the room. Remember the first night, my plain linen bedgown, the way your fingers grazed my shoulders, shaking, brushing my red hair away as the dress dropped to the floor? Your breath caught in your throat. And my breasts tightened with your stare. And we laughed. I was your first Queen, Henry. You told me that my hair framed my face the way scroll-work lights the pages of your chronicles, glinting like gold coin in your palm. Exiled to a wet thatched cottage, I wait for a servant to bring me hissing gossip. I stand in front of this window, staring out at the lip of light which separates hill from sky— I miss you like the taste of water from a silver cup. Now you watch Anne, my handmaiden. I drop to my knees, my ladies in waiting avoid my eyes. May she bear you dead sons, and daughters who cannot know the love of a man. The keepers of this house will not let my remains sit long. When they open my breast, they will find my heart, entirely black. They will cup it in their hands like a small starling and try to wash it clean. But the blackness will not disappear. . . then one of them will slice it open, to find the black knot clinging to the core. 20 · The Missouri Review ...


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