I woke this morning thinking about a poem my sister wrote, titled I am a princess guarded by dragons snorting and grumbling and rumbling in wagons.
I am the princess guarded by dragons snorting and grumbling and rumbling in wagons
I am the princess guarded by dragonsby Christine Robbins Ottaway
snorting and grumbling and rumbling in wagons
I am the princess surrounded by briars
with wretchedly nasty folk starting briar fires
I am the princess with long, tangled hair
I cut it myself and I climbed down from there.
I am the princess, asleep ’til a kiss
woke me, he shoke me, all after was bliss
I am the princess who sat at her wheel
spinning, my fingers bled, hating the feel
I am the princess for whom you fought wars
Raggedly, jaggedly, murderous spars.
I am the princess, a wildvirginqueen
commanding with glory that none had foreseen
I am the princess who made wild things grow
I fought for my daughter, in winter below
I am the princess, I wore a great gown
Now cowboy pjs, I’d rather dress down.
I did not want to be a princess when I was a girl. It seemed like a dead end career. The happiest day of a girl’s life was when she got married and what happened after that? Well, in the Disney animated movies, all adult women were either evil witches or evil stepmothers, or dead in childbirth. Until recently there were no live adult women on the throne who were not evil. And certainly the Queen in Frozen II has been attacked mercilessly by the Internet for being a woman without a man. Perhaps it would be okay if she were named Elizabeth.
I wanted to be a superheroine, not a princess. A secret identity was great and Spiderman had just as much angst as I had. I could be myself AND a superheroine. Princess seemed impossible and you had to be nice all the time and you had to talk to mice or spin straw into gold or be the daughter of a king. I did not want it.
Once I went to the Unitarian Church and my minister gave a sermon on each of the four types of Unitarians. That day was about mystics. I thought “Mystics, what hooey!” but by the end of the sermon I thought, oh, I’m a mystic. And a secret romantic. How exactly do I square that with my refusal to have anything to do with Princesses.
My sister was much more comfortable with the Princess Archetype than I was. I wanted a career that would support me and children, because even if my wedding was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, I still noted that half of marriages ended in divorce. And what about men? Almost no one celebrates the virgin male and I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything about marriage being the happiest day of a man’s life. What is the story there?
My version is titled: I am the princess
I am the princess guarded by logic
By science, degrees and words pedagogic
I am the princess staying in school
seeming obedient to misogynist rule
I rack up a degree, residency next
study the landscape, study the texts
I am the princess who longs for a kiss
various frogs taste worse than horse piss
I am the princess flaying a man
who was already dead, to learn what I can
I am the princess, no wars fought for me
I fly under the radar, no one can see
I am the princess, perhaps I’m a queen
hide in a small town, nearly unseen
Treating my people while staying awake
Try to avoid being burned at the stake
I was a princess hiding from most
raising my offspring, I’d rather not roast
The photograph is from the Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Sculpture Race and is not me or my sister.
My sister’s blog: https://e2grundoon.blogspot.com/2009/01/chemo-not-in-vain.html