The Maid of Norway Window
Lerwick Town Hall
Softness itself, the fair hair loose,
flowing over fur, the childish curve
of the cheek. And metal: one crown
heavy on the small head, her hands
full of another. Her cloak clasped
with a gold breastplate, massive pearls
weighting the six-year-old neck.
The little plush doll who set sail
in autumn gales to cross the North Sea
for reasons of state. By the time
they made Orkney, seasickness had wrung her
out like a rag: dry-lipped, hollow,
bruised with retching, she slipped untimely
from the diplomatic grasp
and stands now in glass, most fragile
of hard surfaces, light flooding through
her skin to fall on the faces below,
men discussing money, ordering matters
as they see fit, managing small lives.
Sheenagh Pugh lives in Shetland but also lived for many years in Wales. Her current collection is “Short Days, Long Shadows” (Seren 2014).
The Maid of Norway window can be viewed here