Give me a little more wine and I’ll tell you.
No, more than that. What, you think I won’t take advantage
Of a royal wedding? Alright, fine:
For weeks after she woke, they say, she was afraid to close her eyes.
She’s an icebox promise, a cured meat; they made sure
Never to move the covers.
There are lots of stories. There’s always a story.
See, she looks happy now. No, don’t let her see you looking.
She’ll startle like a bird. Yes, her eyes are too wide.
Were they always blue? Who remembers anymore?
Her smile looks cauterized. With a hot iron.
I don’t think she can manage a frown.
Now, I’m not being dramatic. I’m not drunk yet. I tell you
I heard it from her lady’s maid who told my lover
Who narrowly missed my husband, but speaking of, the prince—
How much you think he touched her, before? Is she with child?
Did she wake up with the swollen belly of a stranger?
She sits like a folded sheet. I wonder if her eyes ache,
Wonder if her joints are going. She’s ancient really.
Yes, thanks, I know we all are. You didn’t have to remind me.
Where the hell is my wine? No, don’t leave, listen:
You’d have to be blind not to see it. If she’d never awakened
She never would have known it. Never had to grieve.
At night her heart speaks hotly to itself
And it’s got to beat faster now. It can’t take breaks.
The labor pains of living. I wonder what it looked like.
Did dust fall from her lashes as she awoke?
Oh, she’s drunk with sleep. I wonder what she dreamed.
A thousand weddings, I bet. And now she wonders
If we can tell her she’s really, I promise, awake.
Lilianna Meldrum is an English teacher and writer who lives in Amherst, NY with her husband, two children, and cat. Her work centers on speculative fiction, poetry, and memoir, and she has been featured in publications such as Convivium, Image Journal, and Ethel.
Artwork: John William Waterhouse, Ophelia (1889), public domain