A box of princesses under a bed
Lies their limbs tangled, hair askew, dirty faces as if there has been a massacre.
Naked, half naked, their clothes torn off by greedy hands
That do not understand
Or care, really.
Snow White in rags
Cinderella so long getting ready for the ball
Walk home in the rain shoeless
Sleeping Beauty her eyes closed and then the man comes and falls before her in a tussled
But how dare she, how dare she sleep like that?
How dare she?
And Belle – beauty
I was always Belle it didn’t matter if she was beautiful because she read
And wanted adventure
How dare she?
Who is my beast?
Surely not the man I married
Or some other, some others.
I am my own beast
How dare I?
These stories and tangled, naked dolls shoved down crevices
Bodies men have touched when they were sleeping
Or hidden under a bed
Do they have stories?
Do we tell them these wrecks of modern princesses?
Do we hear them from this box under the bed as they cry
And we look at their ragged limbs, discarded clothes
Tangled hair a comb no longer goes through
Meant for an attic, a garage
These stories that are no longer beautiful.
They have grown up and gone
A box of discarded princesses that no longer matter.
Jessica Stilling has published poetry and short fiction in numerous literary journals including Wasafiri, The Warwick Review, and The Saint Katherine Review. Her debut novel Betwixt and Between was published by Ig Publishing in 2013. She has taught creative writing at CUNY, SUNY Old Westbury, The New School, and The Gotham Writer’s Workshop where she currently teaches novel writing. She lives in New York City. You may check out her work at her website jessicastilling.com and her blog thenovelistablog.wordpress.com.