October 14, 2014

Dreaming Beauty

        It's a strange enough story, with the tower no one had ever noticed before, and its inexplicable old woman and her antique spindle, as though wicked fairies have nothing better to do with their lives than spend 16 years waiting to inflict a half-baked curse, and at the end, of course, my sweet, heroic husband, the disenchantment, and the pathetic and hilarious attempts to get my parents, who were always old-fashioned, to understand a son-in-law a century and a quarter younger.  But none of the story, not the flies falling asleep on the walls, nor the fires reawaking unkindled on the hearths, nor the briar hedge that no horticulturalist could identify, not even the happily ever after, was ever so strange and wonderful as my hundred years of dreams.

It always was a strange, unlikely tale,
With all those fairies and the blunted curse,
And burning spindles reddening the night;
That tower, inexplicable and grey,
And waiting for her in it all those years
The thirteenth fairy tempting her to 

The counselors could not predict that 
Into a deep, unconscious fairy tale
That seemed a blink but was a hundred 
They couldn't ask -- there wasn't time to 
The softly falling shade of hazy grey
That shrouded them in timeless 
            deadened night.

There are no stars in their enchanted night,
The moon does not move up and smoothly spin
Across their sky.  The heavy, twilit grey
Is strange enough.  The faded tale
That others vaguely told about a curse
Grew like a hedge as nights grew into years.

Within the hedge, there are no passing years,
Above them hovers neither day nor night.
The cook falls blankly silent in mid-curse,
The spit across the hearth stops in mid-spin.
Not one ungrazing horse flicks with its tail;
The flies sleep on the walls, dark grey on grey.

And on the slated turret eaves the grey
doves rest unmourning through the timeless years.
The stream, lulled in the courtyard, tells no tale
Of other lands.  And through the sunless night
The breeze lies still and does not lift and spin
The dry leaves through the yard. That is the curse.

It is a dull and blunted sort of curse;
In all the time it rules, it cannot grey
The queen's brown hair.  It cannot spin
a single spider's web .  In all those years
it has not made the princess lose a night.
During this time there is a stranger tale.

When momentary sleep can weave a tale
or mesh the dreamer in a stifling curse,
When epics can be lived in half a night,
Imagine what strange lands of shifting grey
were roamed minutely in a hundred years -
dreams far more wonderful than fairies spin.

                        - Anne E.G. Nydam (1990-something)

[Pictures: “The castle surrounded by briars,” illustration by Arthur Rackham from The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm translated by Mrs. Edgar Lucas, 1909;
Approaching the castle, wood engraving by Gustave Doré from Les Contes de Perrault, 1867 (Images from SurLaLune).]

PS - Don't forget to come see me at Natick Artists Open Studios this weekend!  I'll be showing at the Morse Institute Library on Saturday and Sunday.

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