← Philament 3: Offbeat

XIII

Karen Archer


The light moves slowly here. Within these walls
all sounds are mute, or echo strangely off
the stone. The oars plunge in, the water shines
and ripples on the ceiling, I am brought
before my sister queen’s advisors, wolves
who hunger for my blood. On one side falls
the axe and there the fire feeds around
this man-shaped wicker cage of heretics.
No birds fly by my window, high above
the Thames, no insect hums of summer here:
the river holds the stillness of the sky.
These lords, a man of cloth, a courtier:
they beat me with their tongues. I am accused
of somehow plotting Mary’s empty womb,
but I sit quiet, head bowed down, my hand
enfolded in my skirts until they cease.
Then into the silence footsteps tap on stone
and voices softly hiss. The queen has called
her sister to her side. A raven caws.

The light moves slowly here. Within these walls
all sounds are mute, or echo strangely off
the stone. The oars plunge in, the water shines
and ripples on the ceiling, I am brought
before my sister queen’s advisors, wolves
who hunger for my blood. On one side falls
the axe and there the fire feeds around
this man-shaped wicker cage of heretics.
No birds fly by my window, high above
the Thames, no insect hums of summer here:
the river holds the stillness of the sky.
These lords, a man of cloth, a courtier:
they beat me with their tongues. I am accused
of somehow plotting Mary’s empty womb,
but I sit quiet, head bowed down, my hand
enfolded in my skirts until they cease.
Then into the silence footsteps tap on stone
and voices softly hiss. The queen has called
her sister to her side. A raven caws.


Karen Archer has completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) and a Bachelor of Creative Arts in Creative Writing at Wollongong University and is currently in her first year of a PhD in English Literature.