She was not its first owner. Once a shield,
it bore the scuffs and scars of ten campaigns;
a traitor’s mace beat out its bearer’s brains.
The conqueror stood laughing on the field.
Its master was not there for him to mock
or to dishonour. Had a forge made hot
to beat the armour for a chamber pot
the banner torn to shreds to quilt the sock
inside his sabaton. The shield was ground
out of the memory of all its wars,
sand-milled – the craftsman’s hands ran red with sores.
He dared not let a single flaw be found.
Ridges and wounds worn to a perfect sheen
Emery polished, moon-shining. The queen
the conqueror had taken for his own
kept nothing of her husband. Not a bone
inside a jewelled casket had she kept
for relic. And she stood and stared for hours
relying on her beauty and its powers
to save her. That is why she never wept
for he had failed her. Learned her venom skills
to kill his wife, as every concubine
who wishes safety must. And then his wine.
And last his daughter. Such a woman kills
and never stops. Watched her face stay calm.
Ordered the sweet girl dead. The mirror showed
at last her looks grown ugly as a toad.
Glamour decayed from working so much harm.