When she said “yes” to his proposal,
She had thought she was also saying “yes”
To all her dreams coming true.
That’s how it had felt.
She would not be alone anymore,
Her earlier abandonments having now been
Eclipsed by the arrival, not a minute too soon,
Of this great love before her―this champion―
The coming of whom, she herself had heard
Prophesied by the fairy tales.
But she had not yet learned enough of good and evil―
Nor enough of him, of course―
To see that he would not, in fact,
Be the man of her dreams, but of his own.
And how could she have known?
For we do not teach our young
Such things, but merely hope
For their good fortune in marriage―
Having ourselves only slightly
Better sense than theirs, and having
Long-since abandoned that Wisdom
By which would could
See into people’s hearts early on,
Before it’s too late
And we are trapped by our vows.
As to her own young heart, Time would
Prove her willing to learn good and evil,
But his would always begrudge that duty,
Counting himself learned enough already.
And all her girlish wishing and loving
Would not turn him around,
Even though she had gone so far
As to count herself guilty of his sins
And to let him punish her relentlessly
On that account―hating in her
What he would not dare hate in himself―
Blaming her cruelly for his own emptiness
And cursing her that she could not fill it up.
When, some years later,
The day had fully dawned inside her,
She would finally see his loveless heart
For what it really was,
And his accusations for the lie
That most all of them had been.
And then there would come that one day
On which she would notice that
She couldn’t remember the last time
She had made excuses for him
Or accepted the blame for his sins.
She was too tired to fight the truth any more,
But apart from that, she no longer saw any sense in it.
She had done her best to make of her lot what she could,
But Time had slowly had its say, and had won her over
At length until she was willing to let the Truth be the Truth.
It was then that she gave up
On making him right―
Her captor in this living hell―
Her false prince―
This impostor of a man
Who had dared to consider himself
Her rightful owner,
Not only here below, but
Forevermore in God’s Heaven above.
And she would only need a little time more
To realize the irony that she had been all this time
On a quest of her own, to make him
Into the knight he was not,
And had never been willing to be―
Not that it hadn’t been worth a try, mind you,
But not even God’s paschal gesture
Had cracked this hard heart open―
And she sensed some sad solidarity
With God on that account.
And it had run its course,
This dream of him and her―
Busted all to hell, and no longer
Begging to be dreamed anymore,
Though if you should ask her,
She’d have to admit that it was still
Technically possible, she supposed.
She had indeed said “yes”.
That was not in question.
And despite all her shortcomings,
Her heart had been true enough
Not to consider herself entitled
Either to break her vows
Or to manage his insanity
By lying to him.
But it had become ever clearer to her
That never in a million years
Would she have said “yes” to this,
Had she known it was what
Was in store.
And while he was still content
In the make-believe of it all,
It fell to her to decide
What should be made of it now,
In what seemed to be nearing
The full light of day.
No path forward would be easy,
No path backward would be possible,
And the thought of trying to stay put was
Growing harder and harder to stomach
As the noonday approached.
And while it may seem bleak to you and me,
She surely has to her credit what she
Did not have so much at the start,
For I think that Time has taught her
In her heart of hearts
That the Truth is the most constant of friends―
Ever stalwart, and depending not on either
The behavior or the approval of anyone.
And I suppose she is in good hands.