The females of my family extolled
the virtues of our Queen, her cautious charm,
the opera glove that sheathed the guiding arm.
For this was ours, the Englishwoman’s mould.

But Margaret, the microscopic waisted,
a mantrap by the age of seventeen,
slid underneath us like a submarine,
desired, gasped at, but at last outlasted.

Her sister’s pleasing properness peered out
from mugs and jugs and stamps. She had the crown.
She never stooped to let the Empire down.
She never left the other sex in doubt.

But Margaret, the ruined and rapacious,
picked amongst the cricketers and rakes,
topless, fogged, a fountain of mistakes,
making cat food of the Windsor wishes.

The E2 tank slides further into battle,
waving stiffly from the Bentley’s back,
warning certain women not to crack,
waiting for the rabble dust to settle

while Margaret, the taut and disappointed,
has sunk like squandered change into the shoals,
but in the murk, her eyes glow, purple coals.
To us, the normal, she is God’s anointed.

This appeared in the March 2014 issue.

Alexandra Oliver won the 2014 Pat Lowther Award for Meeting the Tormentors in Safeway.

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