By Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
After days of dreaming
and envying change
she saw in household tasks;
spinning flax into threadboiling berries for candle wax
and rose hips for tea --
She sighs, retracingthose brisk nights when she brushed
dirt and weeds from his fur brow
while he stood hunched, his voice
rasping with fatigue.
And now she leans her headagainst a handsome man. His golden hair
mingling with her own.
She weeps thinkingof those twilight hours shared
when his claws pulled splinters
from the table’s wood
or stoked embers on the hearth
keeping her safe and warm.
And now she slides her whitefingers along his. They’re firm yet agile
born to draw the string of a bow.
An archer’s grace.
Then, she shudders remembering(after years), a scene from childhood.
At the edge of a field
scented sweet with apples,
she watched those same fingers
slender and sly, a signet ring
shining on the third,
pull the chord of a weapon, tuned
for perfect aim.
His arrow pierced a doe,her fawns rushed into the forest
and the young prince smiled
A kill for sport not hunger.
Nothing of remorse, just pride
making his features radiant
enough to offend the sun.
Her face pales. She grows faint.He grips her hand
and she feels stunned
by the strength of a lock
that shuts out the wind
but keeps things close --
silent and settled within.
The beautiful artwork is by Mercer Mayer
and can be found here --http://www.mercermayer.com/
This poem deviates from the original characters in that classic tale
"Beauty And The Beast". In this scene, she has prior knowledge of
why an arrogant, selfish prince was changed into a beast with instincts
and a physique that seem savage. She accepts her lot as wife and housekeeper
but also dreams of his transformation, of him becoming a handsome mortal
once again. When the event finally occurs, she is shocked and reflects on
what has occurred within these past days of their relationship. She recounts
his tender concern for her warmth and comfort paralleled with that of her own
for his fatigue and need to forage/hunt the forest for game to satisfy
his primal hunger. In a strange way, those were familiar things about him, about them, she had not only come to accept but value.
Now she is confronted with her partner in human form and at first, marvels
at the splendor of his golden hair and agile hands, at the mere presence of a
perfect male. As she traces the dexterity and shape of his fingers, she suddenly
remembers a scene from childhood that frightened her. She once saw a young man
mercilessly kill a doe who was grazing the field with her two fawns. It was a kill
for sport, for thrill growing out of a nobleman's boredom with life and his disregard
for its wild species. The same hand that pulled the arrow is his hand. She becomes
fearful and grows faint. His strong grip (around her) becomes disconcerting. It feels
like a lock with strength that can shut out the wind, all of freedom's breath, and
keep what it owns, wants or needs close, under control and supervision. Then Beauty is left wondering if people really change after punishment or do they revert back to their old ways when fortune is returned. Will pride and complacency overtake the humility and kindness he had learned when in a lesser state? The question remains open like her vulnerability to this changed situation and man.