the Prince abandoned hunting,
tired of Old Kings with blind dogs,
and ugly daughters, selling their lands
Our Prince gathered clay,
skipped banquets, sat in ivory towers
to mold dragon wings, dark steeds.
His hands (too long calloused
by reins, skinning knives, plucking
fox tails from dogs' teeth)
smudged his work too often.
They pushed bunions into troll feet,
a humpback into a Queen.
(His mother fainted upon seeing
her slight likeness deformed in gray mud).
Painting he tried next,
mixed palettes from forest flowers.
Hoped to squeeze pigments
of storm days, robin eggs,
"He has a way with color,"
came his father's decree
after guessing the compositions.
(The parade of dwarves the king praised
as excellent diseased rats).
Music lasted an hour.
The piano would not suffer him.
Scores of satin-clad ladies
tracked him in the halls,
Children are the best hobby.
They wooed him, entreated his art,
but their eyes glinted ravenous
for rings. Our prince cared not
for plucking proposals from their jaws.
In summer he escaped
to hot days, naked swims,
sword fights, quests for maidens
who also longed for out-of-doors.
He dreamed of damsels smudged by hearths—
they would not shy from kilns.
A girl who appreciated hues,
knew flowers, understood preservation.
Or perhaps simply a girl
who would not give chase—one
who liked long naps, deep slumber
while the world wintered.