In The Beginning

They think they have my measure these lords with their ladies
Who come flaunting their fine white linen
Their dainty Spanish blackwork, their sleeves of split satin
Their bodices and jewelled French hoods.

They arrive in the company of pink-cheeked clerics
Whose faces shine honest as babies.
Are succeeded by their lawyers and gentlemen stewards
Merchantmen, guildsmen, the poor.

It pleases me to see my social betters come
Strutting as I labour in pursuit of God’s Business.
Later the bishops they will scuttle like beetles
Huddling in hard knots to confer.

Wrinkling their brows they will nod like sages
Bow their heads in the presence of such sanctity.
Such unlooked for wisdom, so much holiness and grace  —
And in the person of a woman base-born.

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley
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