Upon Reading a Fairytale: Happily Ever After in Three Parts

I. This is the Way I Think

The hope, the romance,
Everything cycling back and around,
Through age upon age,
Until the sand settles and the world is
As it should be
Once more –
For now, right now,
At the end of the book,
Before the next one starts.

I believe in this stuff.

It’s what gets me into trouble.

The wicked Wild One whispers,
“Hope is your burden,”
And I believe those whispers,
Trying to break the curse of hope,
Missing entirely the fact that
The Wild One holds an
Obviously evil-looking scepter in one hand,
And in the other,
A well-documented history of stating
The opposite of truth.
Forgetting that
Lies are the most crude and effective way
To trip someone up –
For whole books and
Whole centuries,
Until the mirror cracks,
The apple is eaten,
The curse is broken.

I am a trusting person,
So this curse works well.

II. Two Ways to Break a Spell

Traditionally, spells are broken by waiting.
Waiting for one hundred years, asleep.
Waiting, while Someone Else has adventures on your behalf.
Waiting for the Wicked Queen to die.

Waiting – asleep, or
Waiting – to be kissed, or
Waiting – for anything else, really –
I’ve found in this day and age to be
Unproductive.

So, if you’re lucky, and perhaps a bit resourceful,
You might instead come upon a magical sword or shield or amulet,
Often in the form of some ordinary object.

A spinning wheel that turns into a steering wheel,
driving you out of the prison tower.

A lunchbox that blinds your enemies with its flash, and
holds time travel in its thermos.
Remove the cap, and
you find yourself in the safety of
that One Time in history when
Everyone Was Happy.

A stone that glitters, but when you hold it tight, the world falls apart.

A matching stone that you leave on your doorstep,
A stone that your future lover trips over,
and then carries innocently
until you finally
both ask to see the pebbles in each others’ hands,

and recognize the jigsaw fit.

If you don’t want to wait, and
You can’t find an amulet (or make one),
You really only have one other option.

III. Dragons

Find a dragon, lift the spell.

Or that is to say,
Defeat the dragon, lift the spell.
Find the dragon, name the dragon. And then

Defeat the dragon with trickery:

I lead you, oh Dragon, into this forest where you will become
discombobulated and lost,
and
your fire will lose its flare because
the trees are so much stronger
than the twigs of your heart.

Defeat the dragon with strength:

I throw stones of poems and kindness at you, Dragon, as David did with Goliath.
I gather my passion into a swamp that ensnares you in its murkiness and mystery.
I lash out at you with jokes and wit that prick your ability to appear real,
and you pop with laughter, bursting into the nothingness that you actually are.

Defeat the dragon with weapons:

Laser-sharp focus.
Love that will not die.
Compassion that has “give,” like the best martial artist, then a swing around
and you, Dragon, are undone by your own sense of power,
crashed into the floor with your head split open, like
you never saw it coming.

Which you didn’t.

Defeat the dragon with persistence:

You can take my Septembers away, the winters and springs, the luster of my eyes, my mornings, my breakfasts, my dictionaries, my bones.
But you, Dragon, cannot remove my will to face you, to stare you down.
Someday, Dragon, you will blink first.
I have patience. I can wait you out.


I return to your lair over and over until one day, we are done.
Either you lie there in a smoking pile of scaly flesh,
The embers of your lungs fizzling out like coal in the rain –
Or you stand, shake my hand, and say “Good game.”

And when either of those things happen, Dragon,
My curse-breaking muscles will be so large from fighting you that
They will fill the whole frame of the reproduced woodcut on page 219 of our story –

The one that shows victory for the heroine.
The one that shows her riding her own horse, bareback,
Into her own castle, surrounded by cheering crowds –
Children and their parents doing handstands
Tubas and accordions jubilantly preceding her,
Cherry blossoms falling in everyone’s hair –

The woodcut that shows the heroine
Flinging open the gates and, before it’s too late and the next chapter starts,
Inviting everyone inside for the best dance-party that this kingdom’s ever seen.

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4 thoughts on “Upon Reading a Fairytale: Happily Ever After in Three Parts

    • Thanks, Andrea! Maybe because we usually communicate verbally? :)

      (Also, I used to share my creative work more publicly, then went through some years where I just kept it all on files on my computer. Now I’m on to a new phase… sharing again.)

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