Elizabeth Iannaci



The Eldest of the Twelve Princesses Tells All

After seeing what he ‘d seen,
clad in his shadowy nothingness,
following the twelve of us, night
after happy night, you’d think,
after watching us—faces
hot and wet as bath stones, hearts
pounding the Mazurka’s 170 beats
a minute, hair rivuleting down our backs;
after hearing the concert
of our laughter reeling high and wide
off the ballroom’s vaulted ceiling;
after holding our shoes—
our paper-thin soles in his hand—
or, after he’d won and chosen me,
                               at our feast,
                                          our wedding ball,
me: bouncing in my seat,
tapping my fat-soled slippers;
him: taking my knife, and then my fork
from my hand as I conducted
the Contradanse;

after knowing all that,
you’d think he’d at least take me
dancing. Nothing fancy:
a Valse à Deux Temps,
But no.

I suppose now, he’ll be a decent king—
having tiptoed to the throne
he’ll never tip his hand; finding music
in the marching, the hoof beats of war,
he’s practiced at ducking into shadowed
alcoves to avoid the embrasures.

And us?     Perhaps even before I came
across the dark weft of the cloak,
hidden in the lid of his crusty old trunk,
before I marveled at how I could
not see my hand as I held it,     perhaps,
I had already become invisible to him.



Elizabeth Iannaci is a widely published and anthologized Los Angeles-based poet. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and was a finalist for the 2009 New Letters Literary Award. She served for five years as co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets, appeared at countless venues in the U.S., Slovenia, and Paris, France, and prefers paisley to polka dots.