My beast

When I was a child I worried
that when I got my chance to love a beast
I would not be up to the task.
As he came in for the kiss I’d turn away
or gag on the mane in my mouth
and the fair-haired prince
and the dress that Beauty wore
on the last page of my Ladybird book
would be lost to me forever.
 
But now I see that the last thing my father,
driving home late from work,
would have on his mind is the gardens flashing by
and he would never stop to pick a rose
for one of his daughters
 
and if some misfortune,
such as his Volvo reversing into a beast’s carriage,
did occur and I ended up at the castle as compensation,
the beast would probably just set me to work cleaning
and I’d never look up from scrubbing a floor
and catch him in the doorway
admiring my technique.
 
Still, as I’ve heard my dad say,
he and his children may not always be brilliant
but we always turn up,
and in time when the beast comes to realise
that I haven’t tried to escape
he’ll give me leave one Sunday a month to visit my family
and access to his vast library
 
and in bed at night reading by the light of a candle
I’ll shut another calf-bound volume
and listen to its quality thud
with something like happiness.

from Furniture (Picador, 2009), ? Lorraine Mariner 2009, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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