The Ballad of the Damsel and the Knight
Beware the knight who goes to fight
to free the damsel from her plight.
Her plight, she openly abhors,
but secretly, she quite adores.
The knight who stabbed the dragon dead,
now takes the damsel to her bed.
Her bed, he finds, was just a board,
nor did the dragon own a hoard.
The damsel like a dove did coo,
but overnight became a shrew.
A shrew which shrilly pecks and picks
and pierces through the armor’s nicks.
The armor gleaming bright with might
is of no use against this blight.
This blight the knight just cannot best,
and thus disarms and ends his quest.
The knight, his limbs now being lithe,
delights in joking, feeling blithe,
and blithely parries every wrong
and finds—his shrew responds with song!
Breaking the Glass Coffin
Be as the violet, a bloom in the moss,
modest, chaste, and pure,
and not so proud as is the rose
which wants attention galore.
(Translation of a German nursery rhyme)
I can’t get up
which aids my hurting back.
My throat is tight,
obstructs releasing of a sigh.
My temples tense,
pull at my jaws
and keep my tongue
locked in its case.
His words bounce endlessly
between the padded walls
which hold my brain:
“Your poetry (I sense disdain)
tells what you think and do.”
I hear my mother, hear the priest,
then ancient teachings from the East,
all shouting in my head:
“It’s bad, this wanting to be heard.”
I look for help,
read Julia and Erica,
and May and Jane, and Maxine, too,
and tremble, pine for Anne and Sylvia.
Then raise my voice: “No,”
I say. I know,
the sultan’s soul—
to tell is healing for the heart.
Brigitte Goetze, biologist, goat farmer, writer, lives in the foothills of Oregon’sCoast Range. Her most recent poems can be found in Muse, Imitation Fruitand in Fault Lines.