He didn’t succumb
to Sleeping Beauty,
that languisher awaiting awakening.
Or to Cinderella–
self-righteousness waiting to happen–
but of course, since it was his business,
she didn’t tell him that.

She did tell him
that he would likely not
enjoy the kind of mother-in-law
who’d imprison her daughter in a rock
or sell her for a salad.

When he left on his quest,
like all good mothers,
she held her breath.
For years.

She worried
about trees grown from goat guts,
lurking dragons, glass mountains;
she had nightmares
about the secret names of dwarves
and stupid princesses with sensitive skin.

But he returned with a woman
who had slipped in between the pages,
who could read between the lines.
For a dowry she brought big feet and inky fingers,
songs about birds, stories about rabbits,
a laugh that could shatter stone.


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