May in Coventry

after Leofric, Earl of Mercia, husband to Lady Godiva

When your armored ears know only
the clash of spear and shield, when
you are unaccustomed to the sight
of verdant fields, when success
is measured in remaining limbs and eyes,
her voice sounds far away, and you cannot
be bothered to listen.

A battlefield wager, a joke tossed away
over a fur-trimmed shoulder. You will not
hear her leave the room, best dress trailing
in a wake like a twig on the water.

But clear as day now, the clop
of your best stallion on the cobbles
of the town square. Birdsong is stilled,
the market shuttered. With one cheek
to the window you can nearly discern
the wind lifting her hair.

more about Lady Godiva here.
painting by John Collier


Teri and the cats of Furrydance said...

Mike and I visited Coventry on our trip in 2000, on our way thru Devon and down to the Furry Dance in Cornwall. We saw that statue, and it was fun to learn more via your link. The old ruins of the bombed cathedral and the new eerie windows of the new cathedral are forever etched in my memory.

Kate Horowitz said...


That's terrific! I was trying to figure out what May weather in Coventry might be like, and then I realized that over the course of a millennium, the weather might have changed a wee bit. So I left the weather out of things.

What time of year did you visit?

Mr. Apron said...

That was a truly lovely poem. You have a laudable ability to make events from history breathe anew, to be relevant, to be beautiful.

Kate Horowitz said...

Apron Boy-

If Cass and I ever get this book published you are totally being asked for a blurb.

Also, I'm taking requests. Because it's so easy to get trapped inside my own interests and never look beyond the legends, the saints, etc. So, and this is an open call to everyone, if there's someone from history (famous or familiar) you'd like to hear from, drop me a line. I'm always looking for new angles.


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