The Wedding Guest

Kathleen Jones (Appleby, Cumbria, UK)

kathleenjoneswebLiz Berry: Another poem I loved from first reading. The poet conjures a wonderful lucid voice here and uses it to tell a beguiling story of a century of change, of rise and fall. Fantastic stuff.








The Wedding Guest

I was a Princess, I tell you!
Queen of an old country.

I have roared through
                     grubby towns
                               in a first class carriage.

I have been intimate with whalebone, and worn
          small-clothes of silk and lawn.

                                         At my wedding
                  I wore a lace so fine, a generation
                             of women went blind in the making of it.

       Two goats gave their unborn kids
       for my soft, white slippers.

I had a waiting woman once for every orifice
and I laid myself down in clean linen
           perfumed with lavender

for the service of my country
           and gave birth on straw and hessian
                                 for the same cause.

           At Ekaterinburg, the servants
           lay down in the mud for me to walk on.

At Versailles I had a little dog
          who looked at me
                    with mournful eyes.

But my birthright has been lost
           in the small print of history

and I have been so hungry
           I have broken my teeth
                       on a salad of rubies and emeralds.

                                  A bellyful of diamonds
                                  does nothing for you.

Since then I have stared down the bore of a gun
as if through an optic glass to the future

                       where the guards wear grey uniforms
and I am in hard shoes, carrying my own

My bed is stone
                                under a quilt of newsprint.

If you wait for a moment, I will tell you my story.
I was a Princess!
Queen of an old country . . . .”









poem © Kathleen Jones