March 31, 2022

Throwback Thursday: Worth the Wait, By Jeana Jorgensen

Editor's Note: Originally published in EC's "Donkeyskin Issue," today's Throwback Thursday is a poem that tells the classic tale from the heroine's point of view...

I didn’t always flinch at kindness

but now a stray hand at my elbow

to steady me while carrying trays

crumples me.

The first year after I left,

I was only good for washing dishes,

leaving my fur matted with water and lye

while my eyes stared unseeing.

There is no story to remember:

here I am only a scared animal

that does as it is told

with quickly-working sooty fingers.

The second year after I left,

something inside me unfurled.

Whatever my father reached inside me and broke

stirred just a little.

Pastry blossomed under my fingers

transforming into sweet buttery shapes

with only a few stray hairs

and people noticed.

The third year after I left,

the cook stopped scolding me

the maids stopped teasing me

and if the prince noticed, I didn’t.

I wove a beautiful thing

and only later knew it a net,

too absorbed by suds and sobs

that came on suddenly.

The fourth year I could breathe again,

wear the dresses without shuddering,

touch and be touched without freezing,

and I noticed the prince noticing me.

There is no story, but this is the truth:

a powerful king takes what he wants,

a mourning daughter yields,

a wise prince waits.

No godmother aided my flight.

I asked for the dresses on my own.

I did not escape unscathed.

But I did not let him attend my wedding.

It took five full years until I was ready

to drop my ring in the prince’s cake batter

and reenter society on my own terms.

He’s worth the wait; so, I learned, am I.

Jeana Jorgensen holds a PhD in folklore from Indiana University. She currently teaches folklore, anthropology, and gender studies at a Midwestern liberal arts college, while both publishing academic research and blogging about folklore topics, feminism, and sex education. She directs a dance troupe, Indy Tribal, and her poetry has appeared in Stone Telling and Mirror Dance. Her personal essay about divorce was published in Split: true stories about the end of marriage and what happens next. She can be found on Twitter as @foxyfolklorist and her blog is located at HTTP://WWW.PATHEOS.COM/BLOGS/FOXYFOLKLORIST/.

Cover Graphic: Amanda Bergloff

Twitter @AmandaBergloff

Instagram: amandabergloff 

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HulderMN said...

Such a gorgeous poem of recovery from abuse, and thriving like a rose! Truly love this. ❤❤

Ari said...

This is both dignified and moving. Thank you.

Stephanie Ascough said...

A fantastic look at Donkeyskins. I love how the author explores the story's themes in her beautiful poem.