Lady Mary Hamilton

If you were to be wandering
through the Kunstkamera in St Petersburg,
last century, you’d likely have spotted
a glass jar on a dusty shelf
and inside it a head, pickle-floating in spirits.

This belonged to Mary Hamilton.
It was lopped off her neck by a swordsman
on the orders of her lover, Peter the Great.
He found her guilty of infanticide,
(the drowning of their babe in an outhouse),
the theft of Empress Catherine’s jewels and abortion.
The Tzar ordered her death, preserved her head.



Maggie Mackay loves family history which she incorporates into work in print and online journals. She is a Poetry Masters graduate of The Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University. Her pamphlet The Heart of the Run is published by Picaroon Poetry and her first full collection will be out next year. She is a reviewer for