Sleeping Beauty

When Sleeping Beauty finds the spindle
& pricks her finger & falls into her hundred-
year sleep, everyone around her falls as
well—her handmaids, her grooms, the cooks.
Dogs collapse in the courtyard, horses fold
in on themselves in the hay . . . . I’d forgotten
all that. Even the fire returns to embers,
fire’s version of sleep. In some tellings all
this sleep is a blessing, a solution to grief—
no one will miss her because they will sleep
as long as she sleeps & they will wake
when she wakes, no one having felt
a thing. Is this what we want, to take
everyone with us, to leave no one behind?
To find a way not to feel all the days you
are not here? Some days I wish I could
sleep for a hundred years, other days
I wonder if I’ve ever really been awake.
In one version the curse is uttered by
a crone, in another by a fairy. The castle,
in both versions, as everyone falls &
almost at once, becomes overgrown—
wild roses, thick with thorns, surround its
walls, so thick they will tear the flesh of
anyone who dares come close. When I
tell you I’m a wounded animal this is what
I mean—I am the thorn & I am the spindle
& I am the curse . . . no one will remember
the years they felt nothing.

Copyright © 2019 Nick Flynn. This poem was originally published in Quarterly West. Used with permission of the author.