September Massacre

Following her death, the Princesse de Lamballe’s hair was dressed, and her head brought to Marie Antoinette on a pike. Rioters urged the queen to kiss her favourite’s lips.


The thin white checker warming in your hand, soaked
with palm-heat. The afternoon drowse from move –

to move – usually winning. An easy, no-stakes
game. When the shouting and the baying

starts, everyone’s hands wax
warmer yet. The whunk, whunk, whunk

of slamming shutters: which is not the custom,
for it makes the room so hot.

When you’re inside, no chant is clearly audible. Later
they tell you in soft and scrupulous detail.


Not looking down might have been worse
than looking. Whether she smelt the same, that’s

what you want to know. You’ve come to see
that all dressing of the person

and the hair is, in one sense, just dressing the dead. Still,
you can’t help wondering. Her scent of bergamot

and sodden iris – was it renewed, along
with the new curls?

© Chloe Stopa-Hunt, 2011

Project Details

  • Date June 19, 2015
  • Tags Chloe S-H September Massacre