The Queen of Hearts
Made vinegar tarts,
meticulously while we watched.
With cinnamon, sugar, and raisins piled high,
we ate them while waiting for our suits to dry.
Her judgmental rasp gave way to a laugh
swelling from deep in her chest.
She taught us and quizzed us on nursery rhymes,
a test of which cousin was best.

I focused my eyes on the tea towel 
the one with the family crests,
Our family was Spanish Armada,
invaders of Ireland’s coast to the west.

In the darkness while everyone slept,
I carefully crept to the wooden buffet
to sneak sugar cubes from a cut crystal bowl
then lay wide-eyed until next day.

The tarts were almost a delicious treat
that she almost had let us help make,
never quite as sweet as one would have hoped,
but we all pretended for her sake.