A Shining Spindle Can Still Be Poisoned

by Amanda C. Davis

If that was a prince up there,
Tower-bound in bitter briars,
Sleeping away his curse,
No girl would ever seek him.

Not for fear of the briars —
I've seen kitchen maids hack through worse than that —
Nor for the tower —
I've seen serving girls climb higher
Bearing greater burdens
With no prince to wed them at the top.

He'd wait because
He sleeps.

These days,
The princes clog our town
Like cloying flowers:
"I hear she's lovely."
"Is she as beautiful as they say?"
Sure, she's beautiful.
She never eats.
She never speaks.
She never moves.

You'd never see a princess
(or a piratess, or an orphan
Left landless and shoeless,
Alive on her wits)
Stumble across a sleeper and say,
"Oh, I'll marry him."

Maybe he's lazy.
You can't know, when he's lying down.
Maybe he's cruel.
Maybe he's stupid.
Hard to tell with his eyes closed.

Sure, he's a prince.
Doesn't mean he's not cruel.

These princes,
Silk and steel,
These daring sons of kings,
Do they wonder if she's lazy,
If she's cruel or stupid?
"As long as she's as pretty as they say."
Maybe they don't wonder.
Maybe they don't mind if she is.

So off they go to battle living thorns
For the pretty thing trapped in the tower
Almost a hundred years ago
For a momentary rudeness
That wasn't hers.

No, it's a good thing she's a Sleeping Beauty
Not a Sleeping Pretty-Boy,
A Sleeping Good-Looker.
Women aren't fools.
We'd let him sleep forever.

Amanda C. Davis likes to talk to her princes before kissing them. Her fairy tale retellings have appeared in Enchanted Conversation, Illumen, and Triangulation: Last Contact, among others. You can find more of her work at her website. She was raised on an orchard, so has a special fondness for a crisp McIntosh apple.

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