After the Spindle

After the spindle,
Mousie woke early.
She had to clean out the ashes
and blacklead the grates
before kneading and shaping the bread for breakfast.
It was quiet that morning.
The sun came peeping
over the palace
but no cook shouting,
no butler wheedling,
no servants squabbling,
not even the squawk of the chickens pecking.

When Mousie got up,
everyone was sleeping
every day, yet that morning it wasn’t normal.
When she dared to try Cook,
nothing seemed to wake her.
She was scared, she ran out,
to the realm forbidden
to scullion maids, ran out of the kitchens,
Crying “Everyone! Wake!”
but they kept on sleeping
on thrones, in kitchens,
in halls and doorways.

Mousie lived in the cracks like the mouse they called her,
(the real mice slept, like the cats and horses.)
There was food enough to keep one going.
She stayed in bed till after noontime,
spent the afternoons in the library, reading.
It wasn’t until she saw she was growing
she knew it was years.
By then she was bold,
she found gowns and jewels
fit for the princess who snored before them
She combed her long hair with the golden brushes
And swept down the staircase with calm possession.

And there was a princeling, awake and breathing,
an axe in his hand
which he dropped to see her.
“My darling!” he cried out
“My Sleeping Beauty!
They said you were lovely, but they knew nothing,
it has been five years
in the outer kingdom.
I cut through the hedge,
Did my coming wake you?”
So she regally smiled,
and stepped out to meet him.

7th February 2008