10 April 2012

Tuesday Poem: Rapunzel, by Mary Victoria

Rapunzel, let down your hair!
Each careful tress a mark of grace: two chains of gold
to hold your head in place.
What a pretty prisoner.
Your tower is unshakable — the winds and hours cannot
reach so high
to weather life into your movements.
You are as wooden as the Virgin in your corner icon
(but not as sweet).

You keep the world outside
and dust the window with the same attention
as you check your features, in the mirror, every morning,
to make sure they still exist.
And if a stray hair escapes your vigilance
(as more and more will do, as time goes on)
you smooth it back, with a dab of genteel saliva.

Well Rapunzel, my dear
that prince of yours had best be coming soon.
Your tower is high, but the years are piling higher.
Perfection hasn’t saved you from the tax collector;
the world below invented what they call democracy,
and cut the electricity.
They can’t take away the tower — that is yours to keep
or sell.
But no one gives a damn about a damsel in distress,
and braids went out of fashion years ago.

And if, one day, you can no longer tame
the mass of silver hairs that slips between your fingers —
If the skin on your white arms, no longer plump,
sags and wrinkles with ungrateful age —
If on that day, you look into the mirror
and find you have become the witch, your mother —
                  Then, Rapunzel, will you leave your tower
and walk the free earth once again?

Credit note: "Rapunzel" is Mary Victoria's first published poem. It was first published in Eye to the Telescope 2.

Tim says: In 2011, I edited Issue 2 of Eye to the Telescope, the Science Fiction Poetry Association's online magazine. This issue focused on Australian and New Zealand speculative poetry. I knew Mary Victoria as the author of the Chronicles of the Tree fantasy trilogy, but I didn't know she was also a poet. I was delighted to select this fine fantasy poem for inclusion in Eye to the Telescope 2 - and even more impressed when I heard it was her first published poem!

I will be interviewing Mary about her fiction, her writing career - and her poetry - on this blog on Thursday. She has some very interesting things to say, so watch out for that one.

The Tuesday Poem: You can check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog - the hub poem in the middle of the page, and all the other poems in the sidebar on the right.


Elizabeth Welsh said...

The conversational tone that this poem takes is so much fun - it's such a nonchalant chat with Rapunzel. Really liked the dark humour. Thanks for sharing, Tim!

Helen Lowe said...

I like this subversive take on the traditional tale--thnaks for the Tuesday sharing, Tim.:)

AJ Ponder said...

Nice choice Tim. A strong poem with a great ending -- and as other perspicacious people have already said, fun and subversive.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Elizabeth, Helen and AJ.

Just to spoil Thursday's interview a little, Mary tells me that this may not be the last poem she writes...

(Whoops, should I have put that under "Spoiler Alert" tags, I wonder?)

Keith Westwater said...

Thanks Tim. Reminds me that fairy tale deconstructions and reconstructions are a good source for poems.

Helen McKinlay said...

Reminds me that fairy tales were oft inspired by dark adult doings. Alack alas for poor Rapunzel...a very perceptive peace. Thankyou.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Keith and Helen!

Michelle Elvy said...

Great poem, and I love coming here a few days late this week and now finding the accompanying interview with Mary.

Tim Jones said...

Thanks, Michelle. Mary is good value!