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October 2018, vol 14 no 3

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Steve Andrews


Give me the stream that gently laves
The banks by Castle Gordon
                           ~ Robert Burns

From my family history notes: Moore, Ellen, b. Geddington, England, 1847. (No death date or death location found.) One of eleven children born to William Moore and Elizabeth Garfield Moore (at least three of which died as children). Ellen became the housekeeper (highest ranking female servant) at Gordon Castle in Scotland to the Duke of Richmond-Gordon. In September 1899, she was presented with a brooch of pearls and turquoise by the then Her Royal Highness Duchess of York, who, on 6 May 1910, became Queen Consort when her husband, George V, acceded to the English throne. No other information is known about Ellen Moore.

the woman walks
on foggy castle grounds . . .
footsteps on the path . . .
the sounds fade away in the mist
until all is silent once more

Who were you, Ellen? Did you spend your occasional afternoon off work sitting by the nearby River Spey described in the Burns poem? Or did you take a ten-minute walk to the village of Fochabers? Did you spend your evenings reading the occasional letter from a brother or a sister in Geddington? What twists and turns did your life’s journey take for you to end up five hundred miles north of your birthplace? Why did a member of the royal family give you jewelry? Were you nervous when the wife of Prince George presented you with the brooch? And were you lonely? Housekeepers were usually unmarried, so did you have someone special in your life? Were you loved? Were you happy?

in the mirror
aged eyes look back at her . . .
she still sees
the young servant girl
not to be seen or heard