Auto/biography, or so I was tolde

From the Archives

From The White Issue

Mye foote

she pickes mye foote up by the heele
dragges hir fingre padde
along myn arche

& seith unto me
thow hath a noblewoman’s foote
(tho I was but a chylde)

see how hit curveth so highe
thou wylt never be poore
thou wylt never stay hiere

& by thise frekkle hiere
thou wilt travelle far
from these mowntaynes & skyes

hir naile dyde scratche myen lytel skynne
so myn foote didde curle & shrinke
lyke a worme evicted from the earthe

she dyde smile my mother’s mayde
myn owne nurse
who didde worke for hir keepe

theire is no plas to go
unless t’were
the bottom o’ the worlde I thoghte

I wolde remaine stedfast hiere
but the mayde was righte
& I was wrong

Ant hilles

 ‘dare never thro stonnes at ant hilles,’ I was tolde
tharto dryed mudde slops dyde rise from the grounde
theyr shadows floatynge aboven the dirte

‘dally not where dwarffes live
they’rt bolde enoghe to fynde ye
& takke ye for theyr owne

& ye wil never bene founde agayn’


I was a sea-childe surrownded by watere
I et sea-snayles, oystres, shrimppe, prawnes, anchoffyshe & squidde,

mudfyshe, catfyshe, dogfyshe
I have swallowde a crele of fyshe

I loved moste the melkfyshe swymminge
in a brothe of ginger & herbes served with rice or potatoes

but ware thou be for fyshe are fickle thynges, I was tolde
wyth bonnes that canne chokke a yonge throate

I was taughte a tricke, a four-fingerde scoope
a smale ball of rice to pushe downe & thumbe

dyslodge the bonne past tyrs, feare of chokkynge
mayhaps live to eat fyshe anothern daye