April 23, 2010

Fairy Tale Inspired Poem by Chrissa Sandlin

A Quince Upon A Lime

(Inspired by The Emperor's New Suit)

His first story was his mother’s: Her sight,
In another land, before point-and-shoot or YouTube
Of a naked king striding dignified though louche
That has since stripped every parade of its pride.

We laughed. Ten of us, freshmen, in a lounge
At first night’s orientation, still shedding schools
Sloughing the past; telling, then breaking its rules.
Believing him English, I was perforce doomed.

Jack warned me once that every single son
Born from a familiar tale was a special boy
One name given, by one destiny employed
Unmoved save by folly, unmarked save by fun

He said he came from Make Believe’s outlands
And we are either lovers or I am temptress bound
To play the fool during his studies, crowned
Queen or found to be her changeling and banned.

Afterward? I tell our story carefully caged
First nights are dangerous—their offered choice
Forked like a tongue blowing hisses and coy.
From which of these avenues pick we our days?

Should you let a lover dress you in a haunted time
Have a care the drapery is not by pride repaired
That what has been announced is really there
Not loomed in wordy glory upon a warp of lies.

We were decorating his room for All Hallow’s Eve
Dorm carpet niblets bit our palms, markers bled ink
Mascot at the door, a stuffed dragon-gator grinning
Creating a bloody study from which to cast treats.

Jack left most of his textbooks underfoot
Engineering ignored, math on which he danced
Nothing held serious, laughing at each askance
Finally pulling out an inky, scribbled notebook.

He began, “When golden apples, sour emeralds
Grew together in a far fair kingdom’s garden . . .”
Whose bricks, I wonder, whose names upon the cairns?
“There lived a Queen who loved too well her herald.”

This Halloween he would dress us in their lives
Our casual love I thought would evenly compare
To that which stalked their desperate evening prayer;
Unmarred by costumes; feted in polyester lines.

He dressed me a Queen from his own fairy tale
Impelled, as baby turtles scramble to the ocean
To make her folly a king fond chosen--
Jack dresses me in desires, his story prevails.

Yet, a week before the candied night he leaves;
No more castles grown from brick houses on blacktops
Classes rediscovered, only to be dropped
My attention tardy and my grades bereaved.

And so I alone greet them in electric green sarong
As dorm doors creak and slam this October night
Handing out our sugar treasures by electric candlelight
Naked in a myth to which I don’t belong.

Jacks are by nature tarrying foolish fellows
In that they are Folly’s own bright stewards
Allowing our own pride to have its head
Making us Foolish subjects, bare and callow.

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