Reviewed in Lancre, August 29,2022
I received a pair of clear glass slippers as a gift from my Godmother. I worried they would shatter by the end of the first dance, but have been pleased at the sturdy construction that lasted through balls, numerous fittings around the kingdom, and an awesome honeymoon. Great for happily-ever-afters.
I would add two cautions. First, everything shows. Get a pedicure, especially if you clean the house in bare feet. Second, pregnancy can be a problem. Glass slippers have no give, so I can’t wear them now. I’ll save them for my daughter.
While suitors climbed the glass mountain where the golden apples grew, the princess searched Google for profiles. Golden Boy, who climbed in heavy gold armor, was revealed as a serial philanderer and bigamist on the site, “Knights to Avoid”. She sent her eagle out. His talons were like a can opener.
Next came the warlord. That’s how she thought of him because he was interested in annexing her kingdom. The eagle tore him into pieces and left each limb in a different conquered territory. The torso it ate.
The farmer’s son was a different story. A happily ever after story.
King Thrushbeard disguised himself as a poor minstrel and married a mean princess. He hoped she’d learn kindness.
Mildred, the castle’s matriarch mouse disapproved. “This girl’s been spoiled, spoiled, spoiled.”
“Not so. She fed my grandbabies from her plate,” said the attic mouse.
It took time, but living a simple life with a person who loved her inspired humility. She recognized how much we need others and wanted to help, not hurt. She found joy in small acts of caring.
When the minstrel revealed that he was the King and she his Queen, the princess was worthy of the honor.
The Notorious RBG’s ghost woke Clarence Thomas. “There are easier ways to get a divorce.”* The wry humor, it was her alright. He couldn’t sleep.
Whoda thought? The anti-miscegenation law passed in Mississippi, up for review soon. It looked like Loving v. Virginia might go the way of Roe v. Wade.
“We’ll move, if need be. You must be consistent,” Ginni had said. “Think of your legacy.” Shocked that she was more loyal to originalism than she was to them, to him…
What if she was right? Then again, Republican majorities and President DeSantis made federal action inevitable. Decisions, decisions.
* Thanks to Moira for this wording.
In her dreams, the fetus pleaded for life. The girl woke in a sweat, knowing that she wanted to indulge this creation, but love must be firm. A new life takes years to nurture. Time, money, patience, support. She had no one she could count on for that long, not even herself. It came down to being responsible. She hadn’t been before.
She prayed to a God more forgiving than any politician. Followed a gospel that permitted free will. Took the legal option. Mothers need a choice. Children, a future. Hers are old now. They have gained from her loss.
“The moment you accept your own death, something in you changes.”* Words spoken by a Ukrainian refugee slumped on a shelter bed, phone in hand. Resigned. Her words resonate, a reminder of my mother’s decline.
Mom has changed. She says very little, sleeps a lot. No more raging temper tantrums over how much butter there is on the toast. Little things matter little, big things less. Nothing big like Russian planes threaten Mom. Nothing external. Nothing like this Ukrainian woman faces. And yet she is upended. Shuttling from hospital to rehab, death has crept inside my mother, weighing her down.
* From The Economist April 30, 2022 “The Wreckage Within.”
The dates to celebrate spring are close this year, within a month, and yet some religions seem far apart. They fight each other. They fight among themselves. “They are young,” Eostre said, “or maybe a bit territorial, those men.”
This ancient goddess brought them all together: old and new religions, female and male deities. The witches stirred a brew of love, the opposite of hate. They loaded it into clouds that rained tears on the land that had dried to dust. Cracked seeds opened into bulbs that bloomed lilies, all kinds, fields full. The perfume of peace filled the air.
Cupid and Psyche lay feeding each other chocolate hearts. “You haven’t changed.”
“Nor you,” Psyche said, nibbling his ear.
Cupid stroked Psyche’s bronzed thigh. “It wasn’t meant to be.”
“Your mother hated me.”
Cupid’s lips bowed into a smile. “You bested her by surviving all those quests.”
“She underestimated how much I cared for you. Sorting poppy seeds from lentils. Fearing dragons on the Styx. I had my helpers.” Psyche looked smug.
“But it was Zeus who gave us each other. He couldn’t resist my offer.”
“I can’t resist you. Though the spell wore off long ago, I simply adore you.”
“My favorite story.” Surrounded by many grandchildren, King Charming smiled. “I needed a wife. ‘A commoner,’ my father said. ‘Why else invite every young lady to the ball?’ ”
“It seemed fair, reasonable, and what better way to find love at first sight than a full dance card? Your grandmother appeared and before I knew it, midnight had arrived.
She hurried out of my arms and lost her crystal slipper. Touching the glamoured glass turned it to an ashy wooden sabot.
“I took it to every house in the kingdom. But it only fit your uncommon grandmother, to my great delight.”
“Why do you fear the dark?”
“It’s too quiet. It blocks my sight.” Dagny’s bright yellow hair contrasted with Lilith’s dark curls.
“Close your eyes,” she said.
He did. Reluctantly.
“What do you see?” Lilith moved a hand across his shuttered gaze.
“A flash, dark, flash.”
She dropped her hand to her lap. “Then gather the light that is left behind your lids and see my form in your mind’s eye.”
To begin, Lilith was a shadow. Her hair was the first to differentiate itself. Then her lips and her eyes, and once her face appeared, Dagny had no fear.
Inspired by Jane Yolen’s The Moon Child.