Aubade for Catherine of Aragon

Emma Camp


              on the eve of her 1501 marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales


Catherine, lucky daughter,

last baby to live long enough to leave.


How many times did your father

tell you before you believed him?


How often did you look at the letter in his hand—

his hand and the gold on it—


and think of yourself in a winter

that would knock the caution out of you.


When you sailed from Coruña,

you hadn’t even bled yet.


You were still pliable then,

still round-faced as a melon,


muscles not yet taught how to curve

against the hand of whalebone at your back.


Did you ever love a temporal thing



Did you ever hold a nightdress to your face

and smell the sweat in the silk?


Sometimes, in memory of you,

I eat a pomegranate too slowly,


holding the open husk of it to my chest

like a ghost.


This quiet ceremony is the one gift

I can still give you:


The act of holding an empty seed

between my teeth


and tasting the earth

and the blood in it.

Emma Camp is a third-year student at the University of Virginia studying English and Philosophy. Her work has been featured in Moledro Magazine, SugarRascals, Rookie, The Blue Marble Review, Alexandria Quarterly, Venus Magazine, Hermeneutic Chaos Journal, Glass Kite Anthology, and Inklette, among others. Her work has also been honored by Hollins University, Gannon University, The Alabama Writers Forum, and the Jane Lumely Prize.