There once was a princess with a star on her forehead who had to give
her voice to save her brothers, who had become birds.
She was to be silent seven years and never smile, and all the time
she sewed shirts of aster flowers. A king with a witchmother wanted
a bride and since she said not yes, nor not no, nor made no sign,
he had her. They had a moon daughter; she suckled with no sound.
They had a sun son, and she made no sound but still sewed on,
on and on, with an ordinary needle, her own blood the thread. The witch-
mother took the children away while she slept, fingers still twitching,
smeared blood round the queen’s unsmiling mouth and demanded
she be burned for devouring her shining babies. The queen licked
bitter blood, spoke no word to defend herself. Flames licked
her feet, the star burned and pain shrieked and cawed! yet still
she made no sound! And then the seven years were over and her brothers
beat the air, wingsound drums, demanding their starflower shirts.
The queen opened her mouth and screamed. She screamed, pain,
and the flames cowered. She screamed, years, and the feathers
flew off of the birds and they became boys again. She screamed,
and the moon and sun heard and came running, crying “Mama, mama!”
She screamed, and the aster flowers rose up, dancing above the flames
and whirling around her like the heart of a star. The scream became wind
and the flowers became a bird and the woman made of flowers flew away.
Amy Bennett-Zendzian has an MFA from Simmons and teaches courses on writing and fairy tales at Boston University. Her poetry has been published in The NonBinary Review and the anthology The Unitarian Universalist Poets, and her plays have been staged around the Boston area. Follow @FairyTalePapers.
Artwork: Brooke Shaden