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It begins with dissatisfaction. Over, of all things, rapunzel.
The herb, the seasoning. Not the beautiful Rapunzel.

A pregnant wife (at last!), a witch’s garden next door.
The missus just has to have some rapunzel.

Of course the husband gets caught. The witch curses
him as he stands there with a handful of pungent rapunzel.

Unless . . . Now the part everybody knows: that tower,
the witch calls out and up she goes to the top of Hotel Rapunzel.

Enter the prince who hears the singing, sees how it’s done,
and that night calls out himself to the lonely Rapunzel.

But not too bright. Pregnant and starting to show, she
asks the witch why she is heavier than a prince. Oh, Rapunzel.

She is taken to a desert, the prince is blinded by thorns.
He wanders for years living on nuts and berries and rapunzel.

On paper, it ends as expected. He hears the singing.
Her tears restore his sight. It’s ever-after time for Rapunzel.

His journal, however, is one long lament — if he’d just ridden
on that day. If he’d just never heard of Rapunzel.

From the November/December 2008 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. A second poem, titled “Hansel and Gretel,” can also be found in this issue. For more fairy tale–inspired poems by Ron Koertge, see the May/June 2011 and July/August 2012 issues. Don’t miss our starred review of his collection Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses.

Ron Koertge About Ron Koertge

Poet, author, and humorist Ron Koertge’s latest book is Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II (Candlewick).

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