So tall, so handsome, but with twitches and fits
he could never control.
Only Catherine could soothe him,
his head in her lap, and the startled
visitors learned to pretend
they did not see.
Eagerness was Peter’s hallmark,
and curiosity. The plotting relatives
insisted the 10-year-old share the throne
with his older, sickly half brother, Ivan,
son of the first wife and Peter of the second.
Poor Peter and Ivan both needed
adult supervision (gladly given)
to greet visiting officials.
Ivan had to be propped up
and Peter held back,
as he would dash forward
to shake hands, chat,
all this against protocol
until the elder stepbrother
could make a first move.
Adult puppeteering kept
the court functioning thus.
Peter loved his brother,
never plotted on that doorstep.
There was time enough
in the years ahead
for twitches and fits
against more serious rivals.
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