Locked and unlocked



Locked up in my bedchamber. More than I can bear.
The beauty of my countenance, the shimmer of my hair
do me no good for no prince charming comes to find me here.
I will go unmarried––for my whole life, I fear.

My father thinks he honors me. I am his special treasure.
He worries not about my fate.  He thinks not of my pleasure.
I am but one more lovely thing he keeps for his collection––
admired for my golden locks, my flawless pale complexion.

I care not for beauty.  I care not for my tresses.
I do not treasure jewels or slippers or my ornate dresses.
A husband and a family are all that I desire.
A simple life’s the sort of life that I most admire.

From my window I look out upon the broad King’s Highway.
All roads must converge here––every path and byway.
And so I see them passing: beggars, countrymen and princes.
Vendors selling mangos, apples, oranges and quinces.

My eye is caught by sunlight flashing from his sword
as he stoops to have a sip from a vendor’s gourd.
He pays her with a small coin and thanks her most politely,
then mounts his horse with one sure leap–graceful, sure and spritely

I see him passing often and his face is full of laughter,
calling out and gesturing to companions, fore and after.
One day I wave my scarf at him as he goes passing by
and every day thereafter, I know I’ve won his eye.

At first he bows politely–a gesture I don’t miss.
and after a few weeks of this, one day he blows a kiss.
I reach out and grab it and press it to my face.
He rears his horse and races off at a faster pace.

The next day he doesn’t come, although I wait and wait.
But finally, I see him turning towards my father’s gate.
In distress, I call out that  he must not tarry here.
My father’s wrath must not be stirred.  It is what I most fear.

He does not see me gesturing. He hears not my distress.
I rue the day I waved at him, although I must confess
I also thrilled to think that he had come in search of me.
I fantasized that he would be the one to set me free.

But my prince never entered, though he tarried long and late.
Until the full moon rose above, he waited at the gate.
Although it had not opened by the time the next sun rose,
the young man sat astride his horse with hoarfrost on his clothes.

‘Twas then that I began my moan and tears sprang from my eyes.
I tore my clothes, scratched at my face.  I’d ruin my father’s prize!
My serving maids, sorely distressed, tried to stay my hand,
while my genteel companion sat with startled eyes and fanned!

When one maid put down the apple she’d begun to pare,
I grabbed the knife and severed one long lock of hair.
Lock after lock, I parted with this prison I had grown.
I’d see if father still wanted a daughter newly mown.

Then outside my chamber, I heard a deafening grate.
I flew back to the window. They were opening the gate!
At the same time, I heard a knock and my door opened wide.
I knew it was my father in the passageway outside.

I feared his consternation, his anger and his wrath,
and yet I chose to put myself squarely in his path.
In one hand I held half my locks, in the other were locks more.
All my other shorn-off glory, around me on the floor.

“I am not your possession,” I tell my father then.
I am no pretty pet that you can lock up in a pen.
You can have my beauty––” (Here I handed him my locks.)
“but you cannot seal me up in your private box.”

My father raised his hand, and I feared that he would strike me––
angered that he’d never again have a treasure like me––
but instead he circled his arm around my shoulder
and said, “This day, I have acquired a daughter who is bolder!

It was never me who kept you sealed  up in this tower.
You always had it within you to unlock your own power.
You must know this unlocking is both metaphor and literal.
The freedom that you’ve won today, both actual and clitoral.”

And that is how this princess, once set upon a shelf,
learned that the price of freedom is to win it for one’s self.
By cutting off my own locks, I opened up the gate.
My reward––the clever prince wise enough to wait!

Helen Meikle sent along this song which she said had a similar theme to my poem.  Can’t believe I’ve never heard it before…but I agree.  Listen to it HERE



23 thoughts on “Locked and unlocked

  1. Oloriel

    I love that you show the road of transformation in such an accessible way. Your twist on the tale is also that protection of a parent, although most often seen as evil, is sometimes something that is crucial and necessary.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. lifelessons Post author

          I remember The Seekers. Weren’t those names innocent compared to the names of bands today? I was never too sure who sang what, though. I think I’m more “into” music now than I was then. Back then it was just background and something to dance to. I don’t think I ever really listened to the words… other than in high school when all the lyrics had to do with either a loved one killed in a car wreck or the pain or pleasures of young love!!!

          Liked by 1 person

      1. helen meikle's scribblefest

        I didn’t get to listen to music in high school, so by the time The Seekers released ‘The Carnival is Over’, it slotted neatly into the heartbreak of my early 20s! Today’s bands produce music on a par with their names, in my opinion, but I guess that’s just the generation gap. I’ve returned to classical instead in self defence.


        1. lifelessons Post author

          I have a friend who sends me wonderful music.. I never know how to classify it. Folk Rock or Bluegrass or Indie. It kind of defies classification. Lucky me as I never listen to the radio. Would your parents not let you listen to music?


      2. helen meikle's scribblefest

        High school was boarding school, where access to radio was strictly limited! Home was classical (my dad was a Beethoven groupie) and since I liked it, I wasn’t tempted to rebel. So I didn’t get to popular until I went to drama school in the 60s – good timing I think!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: NaPoWriMo – Day 21 – “Wicked Business” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

        1. lifelessons Post author

          It is a collection of fairy tales of the old variety. Some with different versions than we now see. Different endings, more complex characters..as I remember it. Now I feel like I should read it again.


        2. lifelessons Post author

          I’ve looked it up on Google and it says it was just one fairytale. I’m wondering if it was a collection entitled “East of the Sun and West of the Moon and other Stories” and it was just one tale among many, but can’t find mention of it on the internet. Can it be that my memory was faulty? I can remember sitting in my set in 7th grade and reading it, but. . . .



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