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City Girls

04/25/11 5:00AM

This week's YWP piece is by Sierra Makaris, a senior at Mount Mansfield Union High School, who considers how a few fairy tale characters might be portrayed in a modern, urban world. For more great student writing, go to youngwritersproject.org

Stories are just that,
stories,

flights to pace and prowl;
the skeletons of rusted paradigms:

into these we build our lives.

Do you remember
the stories from your childhood
do you -
ever let those musty books
take purchase in your mind?

Do you ever let those figures
reassemble:
the bones of creation,
the archetypes of nascence,
to be filled in by the
flesh and faces
of real time?

That woman on the corner
could be Rapunzel,
skinny and cigaretted
her walk-up patio perched high
against a low-down world;
if I wanted to see her
I'd take the stairs
because her hair's too short and smoke-stained
to ever really shine.

Or -
Snow White for the modern age
Eastern chambermaid, mildly bred
emptying the wastebasket
every morning
on the corner of Seventh and Main.
Rapunzel smokes,
oblivious to the congress
of colliding tales
just below her window,
every morning.

Snow White
stands under five feet
and she's got
thin Asian lips
and a home-stitched face
not anonymous enough for comfort,
and no one will exalt her
in a transparent coffin
when she pops off.

Snow thinks the subway is
a luxury:
for all its jerks and belches
there she can rest her
bound and weary feet.
Sharing her low-slung plastic bench
is the girl in yesterday's makeup
and last week's clothes.
Frosted hair won't come
back into fashion in greater Manhattan,
but her crowd appreciates it;

they're the ones flicking cigarette ash
into drainpipes
and fending off the down-lows
in their potbellies
and leather jackets
who crave more tricks than
they can pay for.
Where is she going, dressed like that -
is there an appointment in the world
worth requiring such an abusive shade of red?

I'd like them all to meet, someday
in that pub above the Laundromat.
Rapunzel with her bored lips,
Snow White with her deference,
Sleeping Beauty with her pierced-heart narcolepsy.
Each asleep in one way or another;
each missing a piece potent enough to
wake up her corner of the world.
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