By Annie Newcomer:
In the spring of 1952, a young princess on an arduous world tour with her husband demanded a much-needed respite from . . . official matters.
The couple retreated to a serene game-viewing lodge, [the] now-famous Treetops Hotel, a couple of hours' drive away from Nairobi.
There the princess spent her days relaxing and capturing exotic animals through her hand-held cine.
On the eve of 5th February, the couple retired to their rooms up in the treetops.
The somber dawn of 6th February brought with it the shocking news of her father’s demise. . . . From then onwards, things were never the same for the 25-year-old princess.
According to the couple’s bodyguard, Jim Corbett, it was the first time a young girl had ascended to the treetops as a princess and climbed down the next day as a queen.
—Muneeb Siddiqui, "7 Leadership Qualities of Queen Elizabeth II That Make Her Stand Out from the Crowd," August 23, 2019
In my poem "(Perhaps) The Last Word of Queen Elizabeth II," I wanted to create a piece that wasn't merely a list of all the queen's wonderful traits. Rather, I hoped to isolate the chief quality that I thought embodied her essence. The idea came to me to find an actual promise that she made to the British people when she first ascended to the throne so that I had her own words to incorporate into my poem. Next, I read through about 100 of her quotes and found one that I felt worked in that it offered me a virtue that is one that I admire most in her and is the reason, I believe, she is held in such high esteem, by not only her people, but throughout the world. Writing her words, but now in the past tense, imagining her last moments, helps bring her life full circle and ends with her quote reshaped into a question that allows the readers to enter into the poem and, if they choose, answer.
(Perhaps) the Last Word of Queen Elizabeth II
"My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go."
— reported last words of Oscar Wilde
Sometimes I try to remember
the last word spoken to me
by a loved one lost by death,
disagreement, or even a friend
who has been pushed out by
my busy schedule like when
a catastrophe bumps
the planned segment
for the evening news, off the air.
My dad’s last word to me was, You
as in, I love you. And my deceased brother’s,
wasn’t his last word soon, as in,
I’ll see you real soon? My ex’s, his
was Later with his broken promise,
We’ll keep in contact. And,
I’ll see you later.
Is it just me, or do you imagine
Queen Elizabeth's last word was trust
as in, "Throughout all my life
and with all my heart, have not I always strived
to be worthy of your trust?"
Annie Klier Newcomer founded a not-for-profit, Kansas City Spirit, that served children in metropolitan Kansas for a decade. Annie volunteers in chess and poetry after-school programs in Kansas City, Missouri. She and her husband, David, and the staff of the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens are working to develop The Emily Dickinson Garden in hopes of bringing art and poetry educational programs to their community.
Annie helms the Flapper Press Poetry Café, dedicated to celebrating poets from around the world and to encouraging everyone to both read and write poetry!