(A sketch for one of my favorite fairy tales “The Princess and the Hedge Pig”)
(A sketch for one of my favorite fairy tales “The Princess and the Hedge Pig”)
burning ideas to
rampant ash blowing
in a flurry
itself down the
fuming funneling fantasies
two smash like
pieces of perspectives
coalesce in sun bursts
My grandfather had a hard life growing up. Living in an orphanage until the age of 18, he continuously worked odd jobs that never lasted very long. Supporting his family was one of the hardest things my grandfather ever had to do, but he was a hard working man who rarely complained. As my grandpa used to say, “You got no point bitching, if you don’t do anything to fix it.”
My grandfather loved to tell people stories. He always felt that because of all of his experiences by the time he turned 62, he had a right to preach about life. Perhaps bestowing his wisdom on others was his way of coping with his own hard life. He would often go so far as to brag that his sermons were as powerful as the Sermon on the Mound. I was eight when my grandfather began preaching to me.
A long time ago I used to work on a farm. You know, a regular ol’ farm. And on this farm was
a barn. A regular ol’ barn. And at the end of the barn was a horse stall. A regular ol’ horse stall.
And in this horse stall was a huge pile o’ shit. A huge regular ol’ pile o’ shit. So, that’s the setting, got it?
“Yeah, Papa,” I giggled, hiding my eight year old hands in front of my dimples, “I got it.”
Okay, so one day a little girl came to visit me at the farm.
“A little girl like me Papa? Could you make me the little girl in the story?” I asked.
“Sure,” my grandpa hesitated, “like you sweetheart.”
So as I said, one day my granddaughter came to visit me at the farm. And I took her around the regular ol’ farm. And the regular ol’ barn. And the regular ol’ horse stall. And that regular ol’ horse stall with that huge pile o’ shit. And that’s the end of the tour, the grandfather said to the granddaughter. Now I have to go do some work, the grandfather said to the granddaughter. So you keep yourself busy, but if you get bored, you come find me. So the grandfather went to work on his daily chores.
One hour passed and the granddaughter never appeared. Then three hours passed and the granddaughter never appeared. Soon, five hours had passed and the granddaughter still hadn’t shown up, so the grandfather decided to go lookin’ for her. So he went to the regular ol’ barn. And he went down to the regular ol’ horse stall. And then he saw his granddaughter or what used to be his granddaughter. In place of his precious granddaughter was a creature covered from head to foot in, of all things, horse shit! So the grandfather could only stop and wonder why, of all reasons, she was covered from head to foot in horse shit.
“What are ya’ doin’ ?” shouted the grandfather.
“Well Jesus Papa!” she shouted back, “With all this horse poop there has to be a horse in here somewhere.” And one day, she found her horse.
“Papa, I don’t want to be the girl in the story anymore.”
“Why not?” he asked.
“Well, she’s covered in horse poop.”
“Yeah but, the story’s not all bad. It just depends on how you look at it.”
“I have to pay how much?” my exasperated twenty four year old self spouted out. “I have to pay how
much?” My question barely squeaked out the third time as I handed the teller at the university my credit
“Shit.” I mumbled underneath my breath. “I’m going to have to borrow money from my parents.”
The lady’s broad smile stretched across her face as she handed me the card and my receipt. “Have a good day,” she smiled.
“Thanks,” I grumbled back. I stuffed my credit card back into my pocket and walked away grumbling to myself. I began calculating my expenses in my head. Parking passes, textbooks, flash drive, class, not including gas, food, and other living expenses. I began walking up the stairs to my first class. I nervously crossed the threshold, took my seat and listened as the professor began explaining all the requirements of the credential program, courses, seminars, observations, the piles upon the piles of
After pausing just long enough for my brain to be reset to overload mode, the professor began
explaining the testing requirements, the courses required in addition to the program, and all the
requirements, forms, and observations that must take place after completing the program. The professor’s
voice became a small high pitched buzzing in my ears as the weight of my decision bared down on me. I
slowly breathed and reminded myself that I wanted to be here. I thought about the path that lead me here
and the people I had met along the way. The shy Chinese foreign exchange student who I tutored in
English. The at-risk teen who identified with the character in the story we read together. The kid who gave up hope for life but felt the need to express himself through poetry. My little students learning to read and struggling to overcome 2X2.
Then it hit me. The blinding light of absolute divinity and brilliance. I’m going to be digging and digging through a lot of shit and soon I will be completely exhausted. But it doesn’t matter, all that matters is that I know there is a beautiful black mare, sparkling ebony in the sunlight, proud and strong, waiting for me. It’s mine and I only have to dig to reach it. I thought of my grandfather and I felt his story reemerge in my mind. In comparison to the grand span of my twenty four year old life, these tiny challenges will only be a small portion of the challenges I will face throughout my entire life span. So, what am I really complaining about? It’s time for me to put on my overalls and get digging. Because when it comes down to it, “You got no point bitching if you don’t do anything to fix it.” Thanks Papa, thanks for coming across my path. I’ll make ya’ proud.
He had hoped to die, but this was not the place. He was too old, exhausted, defeated, hopeless, whichever word, he was ending. He journeyed from the land of fire and desert, the land of the Arians, north, hoping to lie down embraced in a blanket of ice. He had begun to realize, however, that he would not make it. Those that had worshiped him died long ago and the power that he had once had was dwindling. He would not make it to the land of ice.
His footsteps left behind small burnt patches of terrain. The horizon was magnificent and slashed with stratus clouds painted pink and orange. The mountains were tattooed by moss and fog, white-tipped. It was beautiful and he cried. Vulcan tears dripped scorching the wild grass causing them to hiss and curl back. His body relaxed into the tickling grasses and ferns burning them as he descended. His long spiraled horns rested on the rocks. As his eyes began closing, diamonds of lights flickered, and he awakened to see a great creature approaching. Patches of ice covered its vegetatious body glistening like armor, and its two heads stretched high above its shoulders. It had hominid like features and met his glowing combustive eyes. It approached him, but he could no longer move. His body had already begun to shut down. The great creature knelt down looking into his now smothering eyes and sat beside him.
They watched the sunrise stretch across the sky. The fire beast spoke, “The sun is made of my ancestors created long before my existence. Stareh the humans call them. I may join them. Or I may join the flames within this great planet. I know not. I may become dirt, but, then, what will be my purpose?”
“Dirt never questions its purpose. Quell your curiosity in knowing that you will receive your answer very soon. Even if you will not remember it. Free yourself of worry to witness this last gift. Sunrise,” Shifting, the patches of ice on its body glistened.
“Did you reign with the sentient ones? The humans. Did they view you as a god?”
“No. Though we have gods, we are often seen as lumbering beasts. Often hunted and greatly feared.”
“Mine as well. We were called lesser beings. Beasts. We were the nightmares told to children; warnings to the wayward. What do they call you in their language?”
“Troll. And you?”
“Afrite,” steam rose from its nostrils, “I am going to pass soon. ”
“I will remember your death. We have shared an experience together, we similar beings. We are equals,” the troll’s second head kissed the afrite’s horn singeing its moss covered lips. The afrite sighed and extinguished melting the ice and vegetation around its body. The troll leaned into the puddle of water and whispered ripples. As it walked into the rising sun, the troll’s armor glistened as grass began mending the scorched patches of earth.
(Originally submitted to the Iceland Writers Retreat Competition 2015)