Author’s note: I wrote this poem for a fairy tale writing challenge I ran for a writer’s group I belong to. It’s not exactly a final version, and I am by no means a poet, so I apologize for any breaks in meter or awkward turns of phrase.
With flowing locks, a maiden fair of face,
golden-haired, did live atop a tower–
tall sides slick to guard that dreadful place–
a prison built to house a witch’s power.
No entry, nor exit–a single light
from slitted window shone to break the dark
and cast upon the fair girl’s wretched plight.
A single beam, and she clung to its spark.
Her prison sentence she counted in tears
bound captive by magic for 1,000 years.
A witch’s word was all it took to bind her.
So long ago, the girl cannot recall–
so many years have passed with none to find her.
She would amend if she did know her fall.
Could she recall her slight she would repent
though mercy does not fill the witch’s heart
both kindness and regret have long been spent
all that remains is duty to her part.
The golden girl is captive to her fate,
so too her captor locked behind time’s gate.
Her back is bent, and her limbs are twisted–
her wiry hair is white and streaked with gray.
When she was young, her beauty often boasted
that sunshine would predominate her days.
Around her now the storm clouds have gathered
she knows now that her debts shall ne’er be paid
the 1,000 years must now be weathered
caught in its web, held captive with the maid.
Kept in a cage of her device she waits
the maiden is restless: her fear abates.
Time flows honey-thick, through years and through days
slowed down by enchantment, battling forward
sliding back. She is lonely, so she prays
pale head bent, but her hopes are unanswered.
No respite comes from kneeling, so her eyes
are drawn upward. Standing on toes, she looks:
what can she see? Beneath her, the world lies
spread out like the scenes in a childrens’ book.
The pictures change as the pages turn.
Her mind, it boils; her freedom she must earn.
Below her window stands a child–a girl
of very little years. Her eyes are kind.
The swelling of her heart could crush the world.
The brilliance of her love would leave it blind.
“Why are you all alone?” the young one asks.
The maiden longs to stroke the girl’s bright hair.
Instead she hides her pain behind a mask–
inside her gut a spark begins to flare.
Too long she’s kept it hidden all away
the anger of her long and captive days.
Something, some small but glowing memory–
the spark that flared now grows until it flames,
white hot; her skin now burns with ecstasy,
her golden hair is burning coils of flame.
She watches the girl; she longs to be the girl–
her feet on solid ground, the sky unveiled–
the stone around her trembles, the air swirls
the tower falls; no more her hated jail.
Her body lays in ruins among the stone
that once did break her spirit, now crushes her bones.
When first her eyes do open, this she sees:
the girl; the girl whose face did strike the match
that burned the maiden’s heart with jealousy
and opened rage inside her like a hatch.
The anger boils inside her like a stew.
She pictures the young girl inside a cage
she builds it with a power she never knew
but wields now with a skill born of her rage.
The stones rebuild themselves into a wall,
to punish this young girl’s unknowing fall.
She looks down from her tower at the world
spread out below like pictures on a page.
As one by one the pages are unfurled,
this maiden does not change and does not age.
One thousand years have gone and come again.
This picture shows the crone as she keeps watch.
Here is the maiden weeping without end.
And here the girl is playing in the thatch.
The page is turned, the picture still remains
The sorrows and the joys become refrains.