I’ve always wanted a limp,
to be the one who could not get away,
who has to be rescued, the last-minute virgin,
that 24-hour drug store Christmas gift,
cheap but sweet, politely brayed over.
Because vulnerability always looks
so much more charming from the outside,
a snowglobe in which
the lawn is perpetually green
and the single, little, rooted farmhouse
gleams like a tooth, with windows
the color of a harvest moon,
and the people inside miraculously composed,
eating their supper despite being turned upside down
and shaken, despite the maelstrom
outside their painted shelter.
Now there is a crick in my gait,
something like the moment when the starling,
depressed by wind, drops an octave in flight,
I imagine fair Florimell in the woods,
hands and neck lacerated by bracken,
pursued by foul forester, hag’s beast,
fishermen and gods alike,
and I imagine her limping offstage,
into this world, into my mirror.
As the catch and tear in my hip socket widen,
and as every step becomes a buckle and recovery,
I’m forced to reckon with my false notions
of what is poignant and sexy,
as that Braggadochio may eventually realize
that the trusty, goodly, peerlessly beautiful maiden
atop his steed is held together
by packed snow and baling wire.
Penelope Gristelfink’s first novel will be published by Propertius Press in 2017. Her poems and fiction have appeared or will appear in Loch Raven Review, The Potomac, Eclectica Magazine, Foliate Oak, and The Seattle Review. She is a graduate of Temple University and currently lives in Norristown, Pennsylvania.