No one believed the child.
They say there’s a sucker born every
minute, but in fact four people come squalling
into the world every second of the day,
each and every one of us gasping
to be swindled.
“Daddy, look, Daddy, Daddy, look,
hasn’t got naught on,”
said the child, pointing.
The heads on pikes swiveled and
the child’s father turned pale.
A susurrus ran through the crowd:
“Did you hear? A child says the emperor
hasn’t got anything on.”
It hung in the air, a breath indrawn,
the heavy moment before.
“Children should be seen and not heard,”
reproved one of the heads,
though it was no longer looking.
The child tugged. “Daddy—”
“Hush, nawp,” he bit.
The child heard the whistle of the belt
and closed up with a snap.
The whisper died. Foolish child.
We all saw the clothes, gold as the dawn,
the aurelian train.
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: Jeremiah Morelli, Dryad 2