Christina Rossetti: Poems

The Queen Of Hearts

How comes it, Flora, that, whenever we

Play cards together, you invariably,

However the pack parts,

Still hold the Queen of Hearts?

I've scanned you with a scrutinizing gaze,

Resolved to fathom these your secret ways:

But, sift them as I will,

Your ways are secret still.

I cut and shuffle; shuffle, cut, again;

But all my cutting, shuffling, proves in vain: 10

Vain hope, vain forethought too;

The Queen still falls to you.

I dropped her once, prepense; but, ere the deal

Was dealt, your instinct seemed her loss to feel:

'There should be one card more,'

You said, and searched the floor.

I cheated once; I made a private notch

In Heart-Queen's back, and kept a lynx-eyed watch;

Yet such another back

Deceived me in the pack: 20

The Queen of Clubs assumed by arts unknown

An imitative dint that seemed my own;

This notch, not of my doing,

Misled me to my ruin.

It baffles me to puzzle out the clue,

Which must be skill, or craft, or luck in you:

Unless, indeed, it be

Natural affinity.