Fraying Edges

Maiden tied to wooden post, rough gold cord crossing
over breasts and around waist, securing wrists behind her.
She struggles, blonde hair whipping in the wind;
white bodice tears, exposing a creamy curve of breast.

She pulls wildly, and a cord suddenly snaps.

The hoofbeats of a mounted prince clatter down the road.

Quickly tucking broken cord back.                            She untangles her hands
around her waist, she promises                                  from the strangling cord,
herself that she can always change                           ignoring her bleeding wrists;
her mind, not realizing that with                                she hides in nearby bushes.
that action she is locked into
the old pattern.                                                                  The prince arrives to an
abandoned post. Puzzlement
Prince rides up, glances at terrified                           crosses a handsome face.
maiden, bound. He raises lance in                             Slowly he heads toward
salute. He lowers helm and charges                          the dragon’s cave, forgetting
dragon, and eventually wins                                         to lower his helm. The dragon
— brilliantly.                                                                          incinerates him.

All is as it should be.                                                         More blood on her hands.

Yet as she’s carried off, the maiden                           She backs away from the scene
wonders…what exactly has she                                  (one not written in any fairy tale),
chosen in “happily ever after”?                                   As she heads toward the road,
Clinging to her knight’s mailed neck,                       she confronts the vista of choices
she is assailed by doubt.                                               lying before her.

She gathers together the ragged edges
of panic with the courage of a
princess, determined to carry on.

Too late to change now, the damage
is done, and a piercing ache of regret
for what she has lost finds
lodging in her heart.

There it stays, through once upon a                       She goes on to see what awaits,
time…and forever after                                                a woman alone, in a torn white dress.


M.A. Mohanraj
February 21, 1992 (edited 7/01)