Katherine Howard Rehearses

M. Cynthia Cheung | Poetry

“Katherine Howard . . . proved to have been not of pure and honest living . . . an
unchaste woman . . . [therefore] guilty of high treason.”
—Bill of attainder passed against the fifth queen of Henry VIII, 11 February 1542

I am seventeen this year, and what
do I count as my own?

Last week the girls and I stayed up late, talking
trends: skinny versus boy-
friend, pre-med versus law. God
or no God. My girls

said, It’s only a note. Tell him
how you really feel. But I worry
that if I say love, I might mean
happiness, and how would I ever

go back? Already it’s hard
to imagine what I’ll be in a year.
Sometimes I take my silver
scissors and cut I

was here into the trees.
When I fall asleep, everything looks
backwards in the dream-mirror—
my neck thinner, my throat

a pink pulse. I, a body
becoming its parts, open
and close my unlucky holes.