1. Princess marries frog, who proves a Prince.
2. Princess marries Prince, who proves a frog.
Or in post-modern version, Prince proves gay.
She turns a blind eye, and his backward court
into a celebration of the arts,
winning a place in a thousand poets’ hearts.
3. Princess marries Prince, but finds a mad
first wife in the attic. So is Prince bad?
Or will love triumph in an epilogue?
4. Princess marries Prince, but can’t produce
a son. Her fault, of course. And what’s the use
of a Royal who cannot organise an heir?
She’s shuffled off-stage, to a castle where
she grows old, with no company but prayer,
while the Prince finds someone else to share his bed
for whom the stakes are even higher – her head.
5. Princess is pledged to Prince when she’s a girl
yet grows up loving someone else. The Prince
kills or expels his rival, or thinks he does.
But the cowherd is the real aristocrat
and in a final duel, skewers the brat.
6. Princess is brought up by stepmother who
can’t stand the contrast with her daughters – two
usually. They work her all day long,
but a wave of the wand and she makes it to the ball . . .
In the early versions of the story
what happens to the pushy pair is gory.
7. Princess marries Prince, and they’re happily dull.
They don’t yearn for more than the other can provide.
They churn out children. Their citizens grow fat
on bumper harvests. And when nature’s cull
gathers them to rest, nobody wants
to tell or read their story.
Despite such a caveat
most people say they want a life like that . . .
First published Snakeskin 235, December 2016