Rumours and oracles

Roumours and oracles*

Kate Garrett

Seers claimed they were shown the end of Mary:
clouds of red hair swathing the sky over Scotland

with blood like mist – the vertebrae snapped – skin
severed. The boy king locked this vision in his

heart, pulled chains tight around it: no time to love
his faraway mother held in her chambers and turrets.

Nor any inclination – raised by steel-tongued wooden
men – but he forever paled at the suggestion of her

execution, it rolled around his ribcage like a rough-
cut gem, polished over time into deep superstition,

into acceptance. As the years delivered the gore
foretold, a woman whose own alchemy once gave

him life had dwindled to an artefact – a mother
unseen, untouched, unknown. Distant and dead,

one less hurdle to the throne, but left James a legacy
of backward glances – expecting death by axe- by curse.


*King James VI of Scotland & I of England is remembered by many for his persecution of witches. One reason behind this hatred was his fear of a violent death – which was in no small part brought on by the execution of his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1587. On top of that, Mary’s death was supposedly predicted by those with ‘the sight’ in Scotland throughout his youth, which added to James’s superstitions about those who practiced magic.


Kate Garrett