The following short story was presented at the Jersey City Writers’ monthly genre event–Terrible Princess: A Celebration of the Fantasy Genre. Please enjoy.
Ev’ry river starts in a woman’s heart,
Pours forth past the castles and lands of men,
And does not end until the ocean’s end.
From Sirens, to the Lady of the Lake,
With the water we women have been one.
And like the water to hist’ry’s great men
Women give all that these men might take,
Until we are undone.
O, endless sky
Beneath this bridge, oh endless love for thee,
My mother, and my mother’s mother, ‘tis
To thee I speak. My castle’s full of men—
My father’s ghost, my brother, and my prince
Await my chastity and loyalty,
My innocence—as if I could balance
A scale weighted by their need and violence—
Await with weddings and expectations
My return from the water’s edge.
My Hamlet—could I take you in my arms,
Your fiery heart against my drowning heart,
Could you drink my tears, ‘stead of the poison
Of revenge? Could I lull you into sleep,
The sleep of the womb—of a king beside
His wife—Could I find trust within your eyes,
And you peace in mine? Could I set aside
My shield, and you your sword, and could we speak
In earnestness the story of our lives?
Then I would stop talking to the lilies
In the pond.
O water’s touch, thou art cold.
While daggers are sharpened and poisons brew’d,
I turn to you my good river, my pond,
For I have done all that I could have done.
No souls were saved, no battles have been won.
You bore my ancestors, gave life to me,
And willingly I now return to thee.