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Embroidered linen jacket, originally made for Margaret Laton in about 1610, England, UK. Museum no. T.228-1994

Embroidered linen jacket, originally made for Margaret Laton (about 1590-1641) in about 1610, altered about 1620, England, UK. Museum no. T.228-1994

Beyond the mullioned windows -
while you sat stock-still –

dogs chased boars
through intricate thickets,

sails of Spanish galleons
weighed the wind.

Now your ruff,
your feathered hat, have fled,

as has your flesh,
for all its porcelain.

Here, though, is your jacket –
its spangled braille

asking to be touched,
its birds and bay leaves

perched and poised
in the present air.

When it was sewn a second time
with an artist's brush, 

your breasts filled
the embroidered circles

Oil portrait of Margaret Laton, probably by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, about 1620, probably London, England, UK. Museum no. E.214-1994

Oil portrait of Margaret Laton, probably by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, about 1620, probably London, England, UK. Museum no. E.214-1994

I could now so easily
circle with my hand.

You wore it last
four hundred years ago,

and yet I feel
your jacket is still warm.

About the author

Steve Barker is a freelance writer. Educated at the University of Wales, he has published a number of poems in various magazines and a selection of his work appears in Reactions 3 (UEA Press).

Download the poem (PDF file, 65 KB)

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