The Unicorn of Renée d’Orléans-Longueville

by Janna Layton

The girl is carved in marble and dead,
dead since 1515.
And for those five centuries,
the unicorn at her feet has been companion
and guard: a symbol of purity
on a little girl’s tomb.
Suppose suddenly all little girls’ unicorns came to life:
all those unicorns printed on bedspreads,
molded into plastic rings,
keeping guard in pink-strewn closets.
Unicorns of polyester cloth and plastic bead stuffing
and gold lamé horns.
Unicorns fading and peeling
on small tee-shirts.
Imagine all those weaponed beasts
with the muscled bodies of horses
at the feet of all those girls —
all those Cassandras, all those Lolitas,
all those never-rescued Cinderellas,
all those stepsisters called ugly.
The 10-year-old girl the 26-year-old-man
howls at from his car.
The girl cornered at the pool.
The girls in pieces in forests and landfills.
Imagine all those little girls placing a hand on the slab of shoulder,
looking up at the horn ready to maul,
and then turning their gaze back upon the world.

Janna Layton is a writer and office worker getting by in San Francisco. Her poetry and fiction have been published or are upcoming in various literary journals, including The Rag, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Bartleby Snopes, Lakeside Circus, and The Golden Key. She sporadically blogs (mostly about comics and cats) here.

When asked to name her favourite fruit, she replied as follows: "Apple. Good as a snack. Good in pie. Good covered in caramel."

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