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An extract from Not in These Shoes (Picador) by Samantha Wynne Rhydderch. Short-listed for the Wales Book of the Year 2009.
Take this one, for instance, from her own album:
Crown Duchess Tatiana, rollerblading, flirts
across the deck of the royal yacht, Standart;
or even in this one whilst under house arrest:
Anastasia, planting cabbage seeds and cress
is radiant in muslin, surrounded by guards.
May 4th, 1917: all five over
the mumps now, so my darlings had their heads shaved,
then were photographed in a line all in black!
The Execution Archive for that year states
the bald facts: at twelve the Romanovs were told
to dress, stand in a row. It was necessary
to finish off the girls with bayonets; their corsets,
laced with diamonds, had turned the bullets back.
Brighton West Pier
Last week I saw it again, staggering
like a shot beast in the high tide,
the pavilion a skull half sunk, gnawing
at its stilts. A telephone receiver swung
from the tangled guts of the bar.
Of course I have witnessed dereliction before:
mantelpieces three floors up,
the remnants of passion fluttering
in the torn wallpaper of virtual rooms,
the cross-section of intimacy.
But this reclaiming by sea of our
tentative steps leaves me
precarious: those Saturday nights
when I would catch my breath outside
its stuccoed façade, stilettoed,
tiptoeing between strips of sea foaming
below, a note from a saxophone
thrown to the wind, hearing his voice
on the line half a century ago,
still swaying there.
'Brighton West Pier' and 'Shaved' are taken from Not In These Shoes by Samantha Wynne Rhydderch, published by Picador Poetry, copyright Samantha Wynne Rhydderch 2008.