Monday, December 30, 2013

"The Doll in the Grass" (traditional) retold with variations as a Sestina

Lois Lenski

The King had twelve sons.
Each son was suited with armor
and told to find a woman
who could sew a shirt in one day.
So they set out into the world,
each high upon his horse.

The youngest, Ashiepattle, road his horse
into the woods; as sons 
go, he was good-hearted but often lost in the world,
a shy boy whose armor
could not protect him from his brother's jokes. This day
his life would change when he would meet a woman--

Deep in the forest, buried in the grass, a doll cried, "I am a woman.
Ashiepattle, come underground and ride your horse
through tunnels night and day.
I have made a shirt to give to one of the king's sons."
When Asheipattle found the tiny woman she glowed like golden armor
and he brought her cupped in his palm to the bright world.

She road in a silver teaspoon driven by mice through the world--
Ashiepattle upon his horse; beside him, his tiny woman.
But the spoon toppled by a lake--Oh!-- Ashiepattle's tears rolled down his armor.
He searched the lake upon his horse,
the sparkling water spilling from his fingers like a thousand suns. 
Then from the water a  mermaid rose and in her arms night turned to day.

She had delivered the tiny woman full grown as if it were her birthday.
Hooray! They road together upon his horse back to the world,
back to the King where they gathered with all of the sons.
Ashiepattle was afraid to show the King the shirt made by the woman--
small enough to fit a bee or hold a bite of sugar for a horse,
but the King's heart was not encased in armor.

And he ordered it placed in a tiny pendant of armor,
that he wore around his neck each day.
And the mice? Free of the spoon, they had scurried past the horse,
and set out on their own adventure in the world,
turning a scullery maid into a royal woman
and filling their bellies with the finest crumbs scattered by many sons.

envoy to come 12/.31/13

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