The shape of her sleep

Who are these unresolved’s at the Tudor court to meet me? They are the marriages – – –
They are Katherine, Anne, Jane, whores of the king.
In my veil and paper dress I have no protection,
They are sumptuary laws, enforcing social hierarchy.
They are smiling like new virgins winking murderess eyes.

I am naked as a corpse, do they not love me?
In blackwork hoods with beheading axes,
They’re all nodding heads; my skin is milkweed white;
They smell fear knotted under my armpits.
Blood clots are dragging up my spine.

I cannot run, I am rooted in time, and the tyranny of Henry.
The mind of a hive thinks this is the beginning of everything;
If I stand still enough, perhaps he will think I am childbearing,
Sealing off his sperm, his guises, while quietly humming
Like a midwife with a breastplate of cheesecloth and a blood smell.

The old queens are untying their disguises,
The villagers are moving the virgins;
I am the king’s girl, must live another year in animosity
While in a Tower cell riven with finger joints and bones;
I am exhausted for a chopping block and a raven feather.

Copyright © 12/24/2018 lance sheridan®

The shape of her sleep

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33 comments on “The shape of her sleep

  1. Wowza! What a stunning way to Bring history to life. The perfect subtext for an actress to read to get into character before going on stage to play one of Henry’s conquests. So vivid and three dimensional. Just Wonderful.

  2. BTW, I’m just wondering if you took method acting classes? Before doing several Shakespearean plays in college, I had a director who used to require that the actors write in first person our emotional responses in period language to each scene we were in . Basically our subtext. Doing so was a brilliant way to capture the inner thoughts, fears, joy etc. of the character. This poem brings me back to 1970 when I played Juliet and had to prepare for the scene when Juliet has to drink the potion the Frier gives her that renders her deathlike, and she’s afraid to awaken in a tomb surrounded by her decaying ancestors. She needed to show terror, helplessNess, desperation etc. The imagery you described brings to mind what I conjured up in my head to deliver my soliloquy. Bravo. I wish I had had this poem to prepare me for that scene. (BTW, I usually got standing ovations for the vial soliloquy. I’m convinced it was the imagery that did it. To this day when I see a production of the play I am terrified when that scene is comes up. Suddenly I see specters flying about with bony fingers clawing at me…. your imagery is superb. And now you know why actors are a bit loony. We keep-a little part of every character we ever played compartmentalized in our brains. Lol

    • Lesley, no, never took any method acting classes. Your reviews, thoughts on my writing are quite exceptional! It is a joy to read your writing! Many sincere thanks for sharing a part of your life!

      • Thanks. You write like an actor prepares…. your words flow like an actor flies across the stage, and your vivid descriptions are the tears a proficient actor cries. It’s all an art form. I’ve always felt that Shakespeare could write so perfectly because he had the soul of a performer.

      • My pleasure! I would say all artists are performers in a sense… always honing their skills. And always, I appreciate your feedback!

    • Lona Gynt says:

      Lesley, your thoughts cause reflection on artistic process, the similarities despite the differences in modalities. I increasingly believe art is about the human connections, the mind of hives that Lance writes about here, about truths and loves and ways of seeing, and that every artist – whether using paint, words, or the very projection of a new life onto a stage, lives after a fashion in the world of their art. Lance does this so well, doesn’t he? He can live in the world of a werewolf, a debutante, a lonely farmer, and now a a Tudor wife. I once asked if he had swam the English Channel, I was sure he had done so.

      https://lancesheridan.com/2018/02/10/channel-swim/

  3. dourdan says:

    I’m clicking ‘like’ because this made me want to dive into King Henry VIII’s wikipedia page.

    Is this about any particular wife? Anne of Cleves- marriage was declared unconsummated which would fit the line-
    “If I stand still enough, perhaps he will think I am childbearing”

    but
    Catherine Howard lived with him longer and was only a teen when she was forced to marry him. So i can see the feelings of fear.

    great post
    🙂

  4. Awesome poem was very realistic

  5. Great poem, could feel the fear of being chosen to be used by Henry with certain death as the final trophey. The villagers moving their daughters away and out of sight to protect them from the henious man so called a king.

  6. Bonsoir un très beau texte triste et puissant une métaphore sombre
    Joyeux noël

  7. Hi
    I think your blog is awesome.
    I have nominated you for the Liebster award.

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