Ruth A. Rouff ~ Anne Boleyn Speaks

In today’s par­lance, with which I
am quite famil­iar, having
been a wraith for nigh on five
hun­dred years, one might say I had
“dri­ve.” In that I was ahead of
my time, always “lean­ing in”
always push­ing Henry to do this
and do that. It wasn’t as if I
didn’t know what I was talking
about. I had excel­lent connections
on the Continent, could speak
and read French flu­ent­ly, was
well-versed in Erasmus and
Tyndale. That alone raised
con­cern among the creeping
Catholics in the court—fat
Wolsey and More—some saint
–who were wary of me from
the start.

I sup­pose I didn’t know my place.
Still, I would have kept my head if
only the poor boy hadn’t died, that
sad excres­cence in the bed linens.
And Henry went creep­ing off to
that sick­ly cow, Jane Seymour.

Well, I had a hand in the
down­fall of Catherine, so
I shan’t com­plain about
Jane. Power pol­i­tics, you
know. If you think me
cold and uncar­ing, remember,
things were blood­i­er in
1536. This was monarchy,
not democ­ra­cy. People’s
heads were routinely
dis­played on pikes. Not like
10 Downing now or Washington

At the high­est lev­els of society,
one played the game. I played
it and lost. But I do derive
sat­is­fac­tion from the fact
that my Elizabeth gave birth
to an Age. Of course, I do!

She had my and Henry’s
wit and cunning
with­out his bombast.
And she had the luxury
of sit­ting on the
throne with­out a mate:
rosa sine spina.*

It’s good not to need to
mar­ry. If I were tru­ly alive
today, instead of this
shad­ow of what I was,
I would be ruler of the
Universe! Alone!

*a rose with­out a thorn


Ruth Rouff is a free­lance edu­ca­tion­al writer who lives in south­ern New Jersey, near Philadelphia. Her essays and poet­ry have been pub­lished in var­i­ous lit­er­ary mag­a­zines includ­ing Parhelion, Sundial, New Texas, and will be upcom­ing in the Mensa Bulletin. In 2016 Bedazzled Ink pub­lished her col­lec­tion of poet­ry and prose enti­tled Pagan Heaven. The same com­pa­ny will pub­lish her nov­el enti­tled Lone Star in 2022.