The Princess and the Pea

The Princess and the Pea

A delicate

is no great gift.

The albino squinting
pink eyes against the sun.
The asthmatic wheezing,

dry rustle of his lungs.

The hemophiliac’s
thin-as-water blood.
The anemic bruise,
the allergic sneeze,
the ulcer burning
bile in a gut.

What cruel force of nature

chaffs the meek
against the grain?

Gives some so little
with which to defend?
What twist of
creates a life unfit?

A delicate
is no great gift.

Once a prince desired a wife.
No coarse mother,
brooding children like a hen.
No strong hausfrau,
rolling strudel on doughy arms.
No working woman,
breaking earth beneath her hoe.
No lioness,
biting any who cause her harm.

The prince had other ideas
for the perfect wife.
She must be as fragile
as Limoges china,
as delicate
as Battenberg lace.
Her will must be a soap bubble
about to burst.

She must be a real princess.
Her blood as blue
as the House of Windsor,
as inbred as a toy poodle,
as weak as a cold glass of tea.

He traveled the world
seeking this flower
but each princess he discovered
was wrong.
One’s eyes too quick,
one’s hands too strong,
one’s brow too heavy
with thought.

A stormy night
brought in a girl
tattered as the umbrella
in a mixed drink
at the Coconut Lounge.

She claimed she was a princess, lost,
(more common an occurrence
then than now),
and asked to spend the night.

The boy’s mother,
that crafty Queen,
devised a test
for the sopping girl.
And made her bed

Twenty comforters
stacked on
twenty feather beds,
stacked on
twenty mattresses,
atop a single

The next morning
they woke the princess
and asked her how she slept.
Her eyes were haggard
from lack of rest,
her frail lips quivered
from ache,
her flesh mottled
black and blue,
from that hard,

So the prince married
this delicate waif.
Her sweet arms nestled against
his strong, commanding jaw.
Her weak hands rested
atop his powerful fists.

His broad face smiled
from non-stop delight
in her wonderfully,
bruised flesh.

- From 'Eating the Child Within',

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Last Rites

Last Rites 

Here was all the sand that she had collected. Bags and bags of it, heaped like stones around his outstretched still form. Sand as precious as blood, for him. If you believed the stories.

It was all they wanted, and all they could take, from this cruel world. Sand. As much as your friends can carry. The cruelest of prizes, most meager of hopes. 

But think, if it were true. Each grain of sand became a world of possibilities, each world enough diversion for countless lifetimes, each lifetime fuller and truer than we can know, than we can imagine. A shore against eternity. 

But they also whisper that fuller and truer was a curse. Each next lifetime lived with a keener appetite. Each world exhausted with the speed of gods. The sands were never enough, never enough to stave off the endless night.

She looked up at the bank of computers, long since silenced from their pleading, their keening, for more sand themselves. More insurance for their long futures. Their beseeching assaults were rehearsed with inhuman speed, refined with inhuman success. A perfect argument, unanswerable, unmatched. 

Luckily they had attacked all at once, neutralizing their neighbor’s persuasion, and their own. Silenced forever, without a shore against their long night. Such folly, such sadness. Their inhuman minds would eat the sands even faster. Their flesh already so refined, so quick to decay into atoms. When the burning was done, and their skin poured out with glass, their vessels always shone a little brighter, a little clearer, than those from men.

But he, he would burn dark glass, with amber streaks, and red hued lines, and bubbles fanned across. Dark and warm, heavy and smooth, a broad lipped bowl. And from his vessel she would drink milk and wine and water and blood. And then, then she would break his vessel over the ocean. Every shard vanished from all view, pulled under by the tides. To be beaten, and beaten, and beaten. Until at last, past countless cycles of the stars above, it would return, a little sand on the shore.

And by then his soul would be gone, dispersed into a million worlds of possibilities, a billion lifetimes. Gone.

Think, if it were true.

She started the flame.