For those who wonder what really happens to kidnapped princesses.

Art by  Jackie Graham

She was so sure they would come for her, 
with axes and swords and pitchforks and fires. 
But there was no fire to be found in their hearts -
the only fire she knew lived inside the dragon’s mouth, 
torching her royal garb and hopeful spirit. 
She lived in rags, slept next to rats and sometimes
ate them, too. Her sleeve was full of hair and blood, 
and she had no crown, no jewels, no fairytales. 

(They had waited too long.) 

She hungered endlessly, and tried to take the dragon’s
eggs. Little did she know that they were hatched by fire,
so her fingernails bled trying to open them all.
Her hair grew past her feet until it swept the floor, 
but she didn’t care because she saw no one. There was
no knight in shining armor of her dreams, only survival.

(They wondered: could they even save her now?) 

She spent weeks avoiding the dragon’s claws and
scaly tail because one bruise on her cheek was enough. 
Anything but my face, she thought. It can destroy
anything else but that.
She still had hope of one day
showing all of her people that she was still beautiful, 
even after all this. She grew to know the dragon’s temper
and gave it rats, birds and other things of mysterious nature
that she could get her hands on. The beast was more
jovial then, and she could get away with drifting off to
a quick sleep until its angry breath woke her again - 
the smell of ash and burnt debris filled her lungs and
the fire threatened to consume her. 

(They couldn’t fight its fire.) 

She lived in the cave until she became its walls and all
the darkness that surrounded them. She spoke no words, 
only hissed and grunted, taking after the creature that had
changed her. She became the fire, the light that never
went out, a self-burning torch with flames that
licked the air night after night. 

She became the hag who appeared in bedtime stories, 
the one nannies across her kingdom would frown about
while they told their lords’ children, “she used to
be a princess, too.” All the girls who wanted nothing
more than to live inside her palace trembled at her
downfall and shunned her fortune. 

She became a beautiful terror who no longer wished to
be saved. She embraced the darkness and fought off
the oh-so-brave men who dared to champion her - so green
were their spirits and so lackluster were their blades, 
the dragon snapped their swords with its aged teeth and
ate them alive. 

(They didn’t know who she was anymore.) 

She sat atop the dragon’s back, watching silently with
her eyes full of disdain. She was no longer their
royalty to rescue now that she had chosen to become
an outsider. Let her be a wicked being if she wished it so - 
let her be a famed witch, a dragon master, a force to
be reckoned with. 

Her story was one of a princess who was never saved. 
To them, she was gone forever. 
To her and her alone, she was the queen of the shadows.

poetryChelsea ParkComment