Maiden tied to wooden post, rough gold cord crossing over breasts and around waist, securing wrists behind her. She struggles, blonde hair whipping in the wind; white bodice tears, exposing a creamy curve of breast. She pulls wildly, and a cord suddenly snaps. The hoofbeats of a mounted prince clatter down the road. Quickly tucking broken cord back She untangles her hands around her waist, she promises from the strangling cord, herself that she can always change ignoring her bleeding wrists; her mind, not realizing that with she hides in nearby bushes. that action she is locked into the old pattern. The prince arrives to an abandoned post. Puzzlement Prince rides up, glances at terrified crosses a handsome face. maiden, bound. He raises lance in Slowly he heads toward salute. He lowers helm and charges the dragon's cave, forgetting dragon, and eventually wins to lower his helm. The dragon -- brilliantly. incinerates him. All is as it should be. More blood on her hands. Yet as she's carried off, the maiden She backs away from the scene wonders...what exactly has she (one not written in any fairy tale), chosen in "happily ever after"? As she heads toward the road, Clinging to her knight's mailed neck, she confronts the vista of choices she is assailed by doubt. lying before her. She gathers together the ragged edges of panic with the courage of a princess, determined to carry on. Too late to change now, the damage is done, and a piercing ache of regret for what she has lost finds lodging in her heart. There it stays, through once upon a She goes on to see what awaits, time...and forever after a woman alone, in a torn white dress. ***** M.A. Mohanraj February 21, 1992 (edited 7/01)Click here to read more poems.