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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