Waking Beauty

You saw me, a playing child, laughing amongst the roses.
My shining eyes reflected worlds;
singsong choruses to which I danced proclaimed their glory.
I, a cherub princess, all the doting subjects at my command,
all I asked was their love and beneficence.
Fairies clapped for me, flittered in with luminescent kisses,
fed me on honey, cakes and sweet lilac tea,
whispered me their blessings, giggling and tittering,
watched over me with warm caresses of enchanted nurturing.
I loved easily, laughed whole-heartedly, sang from my soul
happy dance tunes and whimsical madrigals.
There shone radiant magic throughout the land
in the morning of the world.

It was not so easy as I grew.
Word got out, worried whisperings,
that there was a curse upon me.
Those who had seemed so open and friendly
grew distant, masked their faces so I would not call to them,
or became furtively hostile so I would stay away.
I thought it was the power, soon to be mine by succession.
Surely they feared to be too familiar with the potential Queen.
I tried to reassure them, to be warm and familiar, to look for
little ways to please them.
The fairies still played with me, but sometimes turned mean.
They whispered ugly rumours, pinched me and flew away.
They called me fat and ugly and would feed me only thistle and briar.
Then, sometimes, without notice, all would be forgiven, all would be
a madcap party, a whirling swirl of luscious scents and colours,
a warm embrace of magical happiness,
warm and safe and cherished.

I learned to be needy without showing need;
peering sideways into partially opened doors
to see if I could find one safe to enter.
I took to finding little chores that would take me into
unused corners,
bending over so none would look into my face with malice.
I took to wearing common clothing, layered into camouflage.
I took to telling myself that I must indeed be awfully horrid and
worthless to have lost so much and be so reviled.
I took to taking on any sorry chore that would have me
that I might say to the courtiers:
“Look, I am a humble laborer, not worth your attention.”

So I was spinning and pricked my finger, as the curse foretold.
My blood called forth the evil energy to swoop into my open wound.
Life moving along beyond my senseless form, without my knowledge or input.
Who can tell what may have been done with my unprotesting body.
I was not dead, not appropriate for burial;
still helplessly breathing, metabolizing/catabolizing, inexorably,
yet so slowly, so quietly, so manifestly without power, so easily forgotten.
The wicked ones who would benefit from my demise became old and dust
while I slept.
Those who were false to me acquired many more sins and salvations,
traveling their own rocky roads.
The curse took no notice of time or circumstance.
I existed in a liminal state of vague dream images,
static discharge of random sensory neurons.
I did not expect; I did not wait; I was not aware of being.
Sometimes excruciating nightmares might overtake me;
no matter.
I could neither hear nor utter, but just breathe on
as images vaguely formed and dissipated.

They say there was a malaise over the kingdom.
Work became hard to find and
wandering adventurers moved about the land
hoping to find their fortune.
There was a far off war diminishing the resources
and often intense skirmishes along the borders
increasing fear and bravado.
The once wise and strong ruling family, disrupted in
succession squabbles, had been deposed.
There were no strong rulers, but only petty tyrants,
and not so petty.
The gardens had gone to weeds and brambles.
The fields suffered; sometimes from drought,
sometimes from mildew,
sometimes from marauding scavengers.
Perhaps these were my nightmares come to life.

There was a young prince from a noble but impoverished
He had grown strong and brave, taking in stories of better times.
He had heard the fable of the cursed princess,
sleeping, hidden, once a source of glory and happiness
in a merry and prosperous land.
He had nothing but a dream, to find me.

They say he set out down a road that others had followed.
But where others had met with sorry fates, or become lost,
or defeated by the impenetrability of the twisted trees and brambles,
he found no encumbrance.
There I was, within his reach, so pale and still.
It is said that he wept for joy, took me up into his arms,
whirled me about and kissed me reverently,
infused his buoyant dream into my sleeping form.

I felt the warmth of living moving through me.
I felt safe, exultant, cherished.
My senses slowly revealed themselves,
though true consciousness had not yet returned.

He held me close and danced me into movement,
laughing freely and whispering words of encouragement.
He did not rush me, nor let me feel anything but loving support.
He told me how he had grown up dreaming of finding me,
returning me to my rightful place,
removing the curse upon the land.
“And what, my lady,” he asked, “have you been dreaming all these silent years?”

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