by Nikki Zielinski

               May 19, 1536
The plainer girls once told you
you were lucky—
your fair skin, the bowing of your lips—
& it was wonderful at times,
the poetry, betrayal, lust
of kings. Even now, they envy
how the sun shines in your hair
as the swordsman
sweeps it back; how red your cheeks
& elegant, your neck
beneath the blade.

NIKKI ZIELINSKI‘s poems appear in the Cincinnati Review, Meridian, Southern Humanities Review, Sou’Wester, Vinyl, PANK, and elsewhere. Since completing her MFA at the University of Oregon, she has received prizes and fellowships from Djerassi, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Vermont Studio Center, Bridport Arts Centre, and Sitka Center, among others. A 2014 recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, she lives in Cleveland.