Now I would never claim to be a poet. I haven’t done the training and I apologise to all my poet friends who have, for simply putting stuff out there sometimes. But once in a while a work requires the form – a part of a novel or a play I am writing. Sometimes something moves me and lines leap into my head. That’s why it’s always vital to carry a notebook and a pen. Like a single image from a dream, remember that as a starting point and you can often remember the rest. If I write down the first couple of lines, the rest will spool from those.
The idea for the following struck me when I went to the Tower of London last week, went into the chapel of St Peter in Chains, heard how they’d moved Anne’s remains again. As some will know, I have a relationship with her. She was the starting point of my first novel, The French Executioner. And I dug up that same chapel floor to seek her bones in the opening of my second novel, Blood Ties.
So here, without further preamble, are the thoughts that came, then and later.
They moved her bones:
–Thoughts on revisiting Anne Boleyn in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula –
She bewitched everyone
The Court, the Country
The King most of all
With her French sleeves, her small feet,
Her smile of secrets.
But in a palace of whispers
A white hare, hunted
There was no escape.
A keen sword cut her life
Her torn body tumbled
Into a chest to lie unmarked
Under this chapel floor.
They’ve moved her again now
Her bones and skull
Closer to the altar, away
From the other queens who jostle
Beneath those red-stained tiles.
But each May nineteenth
Will white roses still be placed
By unknown hand
Upon her shifting grave?
While in Norfolk, will that hare
Still run across the churchyard
In the one place she was happy for a time?