The Autobiography of Anne Boleyn


When I was alive, I never knew the parts
of the body had their own
parts: the head of the femur, the neck
of the uterus, the cervix’s mouth.

Five hundred years later, notice how
everyone still puts words in my mouth,
even these words. Movies you’ve seen imagine
the night before I died, whether I believed
my husband would forgive me, my state
of mind—all while my neck barely held my head
in its place. Seems like people like it

when someone (not them) gets
what’s coming. Even history
books only pretend it’s a question:
what choice for a king
whose queen’s continued breathing
now offends, like a sixth
finger, or a nipple in the armpit—

I wonder why, after all that’s been said,
you think you can know me. I dwell inside
the eye of your brain, the word on the page: me,
split for anyone to try. Meanwhile my husband
had his chore to finish. He’d always desired
your sharp gasp, your good opinion.

M. Cynthia Cheung