Sleep is just a way of counting
the centuries. I couldn’t keep my eyes
open when I thought of the thickets you would
go through. There was a kind of absence
in the king’s mood, and the ladies in waiting
really wouldn’t, at least not that long.
I don’t think I had a choice.
Lying down was a hard ride. The dreams
stung my insides and twisted my sense
of direction. The pricking of my thumbs
and the hairs at the back of my neck
reminded me of something I was forgetting—
a kettle on the open flame, a flatiron
left face down on a fabric. Settling
into those strange regurgitations of
yesterday, I left it to work itself out,
or burn down the place, whichever.
You age more slowly when you’re moving.
I was the one standing still (or rather lying), which didn’t
do us any good at all. You should have found me
as decrepit as my dress, crumbling to dust
around your bootprints. In fact I was buck naked
when you took my hand, which no one ever tells
anymore—but still as soft as the day I first spun
this tale. And you, a hundred years my junior,
losing the horse and other useless accoutrements,
hacking away at my defenses to get to that soft
core of home.