Rosebed
by J. C. Runolfson


 

Sharpness would ruin you, they were told
it shaped their expectations.
They confiscated needles
spindles burned
they watched for your beauty
your delicacy
your dullness.

In your infant sleep
you dreamed the witch speaking
woke grimacing
grinning
toothless.

You grew up hunting points.

You worried at everything
rolling it between your fingers
between your thoughts
between your dreams.

You wanted
the immutable essence
the brilliant clarity
the hard core.

Not everything withstood your scrutiny
your mother's roses withered
while you sought thorns.

There is no softness in this princess, they wailed outraged
she wields blades against us
her wit is cutting
her eyes burn.
Sweeten her
bruise her
change her
before she kills us all.

Then you found what you sought
and you bled as you fell
red as roses
they wailed again.
But in your mind the witch laughed
just like you.

Your thoughts were all sharpness
you could dream among.

Still they tried to alter you
twenty down mattresses
a fresh round pea
flowers in your hair
on your gown
in your mouth
until you couldn't move.

So you settled into your weight
into your changelessness
into your edged beauty
and under your will
the down compacted
the pea hardened
the flowers rotted
but you did not move
so they told themselves it was time.

True love's kiss will prick her awake, a faery said
the witch laughed again.

A kiss
is that what they're calling it
these days?

In your ancient sleep
you dreamed the witch speaking
woke grimacing
grinning
toothsome.

You spat shriveled stems and shook free of wilted petals
the pea under your back had become brittle
as old bones
as burnt wood
as dried roses
you shifted
on threadbare mattresses
it crumbled like your father's kingdom.

A strange prince climbed the stair to your tower
awake you waited
needle
spindle
thorn
you wondered what his kiss would be
and what point he'd find in yours.


 

About the Author:

J. C. Runolfson inherited her father's inclination toward poetry. She is an avid scholar of faery tales, which influences both her poetry and prose. Her short fiction has appeared in Reflection's Edge, and she has published a few of her poems on her online journal.


Poem 2006 J. C. Runolfson.  Painting by Edmund Dulac.