When Sleeping Beauty finds the spindle
& pricks her finger & falls into her hundred-
year sleep, everyone around her falls as
well—her handmaids, her grooms, the cooks.
Dogs collapse in the courtyard, horses fold
in on themselves in the hay . . . . I’d forgotten
all that. Even the fire returns to embers,
fire’s version of sleep. In some tellings all
this sleep is a blessing, a solution to grief—
no one will miss her because they will sleep
as long as she sleeps & they will wake
when she wakes, no one having felt
a thing. Is this what we want, to take
everyone with us, to leave no one behind?
To find a way not to feel all the days you
are not here? Some days I wish I could
sleep for a hundred years, other days
I wonder if I’ve ever really been awake.
In one version the curse is uttered by
a crone, in another by a fairy. The castle,
in both versions, as everyone falls &
almost at once, becomes overgrown—
wild roses, thick with thorns, surround its
walls, so thick they will tear the flesh of
anyone who dares come close. When I
tell you I’m a wounded animal this is what
I mean—I am the thorn & I am the spindle
& I am the curse . . . no one will remember
the years they felt nothing.
Isn’t there a bird (what’s its name?)
that collects blue
things—bottle cap, rubber band,
bits of broken
cups—to make an elaborate, sparkling
blue nest on the ground. At
a meeting, a woman spoke of
her brother, who’d just
she said she knew it was God’s
will. We all want to be held
a little higher. Bower
bird, that’s the name, it gathers
all that blue
& arranges it into a nest
to make the beloved, of course,
want to stay.
Nick Flynn has worked as a ship’s captain, an electrician, and as a caseworker with homeless adults. His most recent book is My Feelings (Graywolf, 2015), a collection of poems. In 2019, two new books will appear: Stay (Ze Books), a collection of collaborations and writings, as well as I Will Destroy You (Graywolf), a collection of poems. Nick’s work has been translated into fifteen languages. He is currently a professor on the creative writing faculty at the University of Houston.