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One December

the Prince abandoned hunting,

tired of Old Kings with blind dogs,

and ugly daughters, selling their lands

with marriages.

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,

month-old snow.

"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.

HelenaBell Helena Bell is a writer and tax accountant living in Chattanooga, TN. Her fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, and The Indiana Review. Instead of cats she collects graduate degrees and currently has MFAs in Fiction and Poetry as well as a JD, LLM, and MAC. You can find her at
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