The halls were longer then,
the ceiling arched like the sky
above the forest where I’d lived,
a shadowed girl tended by fairies.
What did I know of treachery?
Squirrels leaped and birds sang,
baby otters slept in my lap
curled like questions.
One day, beside the singing river
a new animal on two legs appeared
clothed in blue silk and leather, eyes
goring me, invisible antlers erect.
You know the rest. Spinning wheel
spindle prick, one hundred years
of sleep. Oh yes, I tossed and turned
and dreamed of the fox who walked
beside me in the woods, skirting trees,
treading moss and rocks on silent orange paws.
When lightning struck in the form of a kiss,
a man’s gloved hand lay on my thigh.
As promised, we were married.
I ate pheasant and danced
in a whirl of shawm and rebec
but never bore children, my womb sleeping
still. My husband consorts with women
whose sons contend for his throne,
and no amount of silk can cover my shame.
Now the paths etched into my visage lead
to a fall I never imagined before the spell,
a hidden pitch that catches my slippers
to pull me down to sleep.
Linda Scheller is the author of Fierce Light (FutureCycle Press,) a book of poetry in the imagined voices of 36 historic women. Her poetry, plays, and book reviews are published or forthcoming in Terrain, Notre Dame Review, Poem, The American Journal of Poetry, Hawaii Pacific Review, Plays, Poetry East, Entropy, and many other publications. Ms. Scheller lives in California’s Central Valley where she serves on the board of the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center and programs for KCBP community radio. Her website is lindascheller.com.
Artwork: Mary Chiaramonte