Mary Matusz, from Issue No. 86

The Polish Princess who became Queen of Sweden

Catherine Jagiellon (1526-1583)

Think of an entourage of fifty-nine:
three Catholic priests, two Italian tailors,
bakers, a personal cup-bearer, four dwarfs
(two female, two male), ladies in waiting
(the favourite Dorothea), lute players,
trumpeters, drummers, two harpists. Think
of beauty associated with the colour red,
Catherine’s red hair, black velvet bodice
embellished with gold, silver, rubies.

How incomprehensible their lives must seem
to those looking on, as they traverse the land
from Vilnius Castle after the wedding feast.
Her dowry never followed. She gained
a reputation for kindness, left a legacy of the fork
(not her own gold-plated specimen) with which
to eat the sticky desserts the nation so craved.