Making History

by Brian Docherty

In all my years of sewing embroidery in Kent,
I never believed in chance, so I took great care
to get the bones of this story to be tapestried,
so was obliged to hear several men’s witness.

I am also used to tapestries being their proper
size and shape, so when Bishop Odo lessoned
us on the dimensions his brother’s greatest
adventure had to fit into, I held my tongue.

Odo is Church Militant, and now Earl of Kent,
and King William’s right-hand man to boot,
sword in one hand, crozier in the other.
My sisters and I sewed what we were told.

As for King Harold taking an arrow in the eye,
who knows, but I made him a proper What just;
Hastings Castle would not sew without making
William of Normandy appear far too small.

If Odo says ‘Stitch Hastings’, not Senlac Hill,
be it so, we made the story in seventy-five panels,
one pace per scene, seven years in the making,
now I hear it will grace Odo’s new cathedral.

I wish he and his brother joy of it, we were
paid for our work, old coins and new, I have
told their story, my way, read the Latin titles
carefully, if you can, and think on our loss.