On Collier's Sleeping Beauty

by Rachel Schmieder-Gropen

The kingdom employs a handful of handmaidens,
I expect, to clear the cobwebs from Aurora’s mouth
before the spiders crawl in. A beauty whose dark
hair is roped with gold waits for Aurora’s fingernails
to curl black and ragged into the soft pads of her
fingers. Waits for Aurora to whimper in her sleep
and brings out clumsy clippers, trims them short
and oils them soft and pink. The girl in blue is there
to trim Aurora’s hair when split ends begin to coil
on the tiled floor. Sometimes, she drags in buckets
filled with the courtyard fountain’s reluctant trickle;
sometimes, makes soap with lye that burns her hands.
Dips her lady’s golden mop in recycled water,
wrings it out. Dumps bucketfuls of dandruff, grease,
dead flies in the corner for the castle dogs until
the last dog has died. Repeats every decade or so
until a handsome prince arrives, panting, to exclaim
at the sleeper’s beauty and put his mouth on hers.

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