by Miriam C. Jacobs
In a green world where nothing changes but the light,
Thumbelina and her naked Prince,
tangles of reeds matting their wild hair,
trace each other’s limbs in sunshine
with garden constellations, in moonlight
with glowing paper lanterns,
a tableau upon a leaf floating in the current,
sweetness of summer past dreaming.
Then the sky opens, a tumult of waterfall appears;
the fragile raft founders unsurprised, in shallows,
a timeless stage piece shining still, a sacred present,
constant and luminous even in its drowning.
No wish nor will can force the years to swell
until you grow into this crown,
no stories, no bellying up, no bed time.
We build antipathies, rock on bitter rock:
who asks and who keeps silence,
who heaps up expectation upon hours and days lost
of love too short, too spotty, too querulous,
In a circle of stones we don’t intend to gather,
cannot stop gathering, Pierrot and Judy
– the punch line long delivered –
sit apart among the empty chairs.
This wreckage is a dream, too, you know:
the idea that we will awaken, find footing
in the downpour, or clarity, reason,
or even that there is a wavering, lineal truth,
a tiny crown to scoop out, gleaming, from the tranquil muck.
The night I leaned into your lap and felt your stiffening
against the back of my neck is now
accounting in the ether. Still –
in bed alone, dreaming of rain, I know suddenly this stasis
is a shadow of our green masque
and not much different from it,
no less nor more a story to tell myself.
* * *
Miriam C. Jacobs (aka Colleen Payton) is a alumnus of the University of Chicago and teaches college writing, literature and humanities. Jacobs writes for several magazines and is the editor of Eyedrum Periodically, the art/literature journal of Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery, Atlanta. Her poetry has appeared in The Camel Saloon, Bluestem: the Art and Literary Journal of Eastern Illinois University, The King’s English, and Oklahoma Today, among other publications. Her chapbook of poetry, The Naked Prince, was published by Fort!/Da? Books in September 2013.
Fairy tales are one of my favorite genres. As I have come to better understand the connections these tales have with Jungian psychology and religious myth, I have begun to employ them deliberately, to think about them in relation to observed phenomena and personal experience. Since readers like and remember many such stories too, I feel they help me to meet readers on the page - or virtual page - help readers get involved with what's happening in the poem, in terms of story, symbol and language.