Upon a Time
Phebe Davidson

Bring them on: A King. A Queen.
Always childless, without hope really,
they are dreaming of root

and branch as childless couples do,
as something they might come to unaware.
It might be winter,

the whiteness of snow more
white than anyone had known before.
Even the trees

could vanish in such blankness,
line be lost in all that light. Surely then
the crone, from nowhere

or everywhere, might be creeping
into frame. She might be omen. She might
just be old and horrible

to see, but she will lay
her burden at their feet, the child not
crying, unafraid. Spring, they think

would be too late, the season
too auspicious for gestures such as this.
Narrative is tricky, after all.

They don’t much care
for summer: sticky heat and too-long
days, sleep too slow in coming.

They dare not miss a cue.
Already, autumn burnishes the land.
The time is at hand

for the spinning of long tales,
for the King and his good Merope
to take some orphan

as their own. There is no crone,
of course, just a tired herder, returned
from Cithaeron’s gorse.

He carries something. Who
Knows what? The plot seeks to advance.
The Queen extends her empty arms.

The King will make decree.
They do not need to know their story’s end.
Snow is falling now. They are at peace.

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