7:4: “What You Never Knew About the Princess”, by J.C. Runolfson

7:4: “What You Never Knew About the Princess”, by J.C. Runolfson

What you never knew about the princess
is that she likes to go down to the shore at midnight
kick off her shoes
dig her toes in the sand
as she dances with the selkies.

What you never knew about the princess
is that she likes singing with the wolves
as much as the nightingales
opening her throat and howling
the daughter of the man who won his crown on the battlefield.

What you never knew about the princess
is that she knows the genus and species
of every frog in the palace ponds
and the golden ball was very pretty
but a magnifying glass would be a better gift.

What you never knew about the princess
is that she bred those roses, bled on them
she doesn’t need you to protect her from thorns
to compare her to the fairest blooms
her heart beats in both.

What you never knew about the princess
is that she likes standing in the tower window
spreading her arms wide
scaring her ladies-in-waiting
learning to fly.

What you never knew about the princess
is she has a habit of getting lost in her own castle
exploring unused rooms for hours
emerging dusty and sweaty and beaming with discovery
old treasures and junk alike precious in her eyes.

What you never knew about the princess
is that she has sisters just as lovely, just as kind
just as clever as you never knew she was, is
a bowery of witty women trading rings and hair and needlework
for wings, tales, secrets freedom.

What you never knew about the princess
is that, while you hacked through thorns
climbed the tower stair
gazed on her fair face like something out of a dream
she was awake the whole time.


J. C. Runolfson lives in San Diego, where she looks for selkies in the waves and spots dryads in Balboa Park. Her work has appeared in Lone Star Stories, The Sword Review, Goblin Fruit, and Sybil’s Garage, among other publications.

This poem was inspired by the Elise Matthesen necklace of the same name, and by the author’s conviction that, in most fairy tales, princess is just another word for hero.



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