A Queen of Blood
Narrative Poetic Novella. Excerpt - Chapter I: Naomi
She was alone and lost, and he was kind.
He offered her a ring, and her hand shook
as, gently, he slipped it on her finger.
She had never felt the cold kiss of gold
against her peasant flesh before that day
when she became the king’s favored betrothed.
With doting eyes, he promised her the world.
She knew he could give it. The thought scared her
and excited her at once. Girlhood dreams
realized. Out of poverty came mercy.
Security, the sweetest gift of all,
he offered her, in taking her as bride.
She, obscure shadow that she was, echo
forgotten on a breeze, sweet, simple girl
with haunted eyes, subsisting on mere dreams,
would be queen.
It did not feel real to her.
Even as the king held her calloused hands
as she floated into his fine carriage
buoyed by surreal hope, and disbelief.
Even as he brought her to his palace
and warmly murmured, ‘Welcome home, my dear,’
and they reclined before the hearth, like friends
as he, ever kind and earnest, asked her
questions no one before had cared to pose.
Her past, her dreams and fears, he tried to gauge
through his affectionate attention, but
she was so unaccustomed to being
acknowledged that she hardly knew how to
reply. Yet he was patient, and in time,
she came to trust him with her thoughts, her mind,
her heart and soul as well.
She liked the way
that the brazen firelight danced in his dark
eyes, the color of grief and loneliness,
that shade, both unwelcome and endearing
in its familiarity. It seemed
their fireside talks each night before they wed
coaxed light, and with it, life, back to his heart
until his eyes sparkled again, even
in dark. She could not know how she lit up
his imagination with lustful hopes.
He felt again a youth, in love and lust
when he gazed at his maiden fiancée,
pure in her rustic rural loveliness,
with a kind heart that beat in tune with his.
Both broken, aching, yearning to be loved
And love her he would, pamper her
with roses, red like blood on virgin snow
and ruby jewels that lay, cold and heavy,
at her throat. Silken gowns, and golden crowns,
and a fine, tall mirror, gleaming crystal,
which he had bestowed with a love-struck smile.
“Now you can see the beauty that enchants
a king. Naomi,” he murmured, “I am
spell-bound by you. Let us wait no longer.
Sweet one, marry me, tomorrow.” he begged.
She sought his dusky eyes, and saw his need.
His devotion and faith, hunger, and hope.
She could not tell if there was love. She had
no experience to recognize it.
But she recognized the want, hope, and dreams,
so she nodded, and he enveloped her
in his muscled arms. Slowly, she breathed him,
Scent of man, of soap and smoke and aged youth.
It did not feel real to her. Even as
the servant girls, her servant girls, draped silk
and lace, and threaded pearls through her thick locks
where pine needles and petals used to cling.
Even as pipe organ music pounded
in her mind, like bizarre thunder. Even
as he gazed, and a smile, the first in years,
peeked through his regal beard to encourage
his bride, who trembled like a frail white birch.
Even as his warm, soft hand greeted hers
and lifted her immaculate white veil
beneath whose daintiness she did remain
a browned peasant girl who had known much grief.
Even as he kissed her for the first time,
to claim her irrevocably as his,
and his whiskers scratched her tender pale lips.
Even as he placed the rich, weighty crown
upon her brow, bellowed “Long Live the Queen!”
And his subjects – hers, too, now – cheered loudly
but whispered amongst themselves their disdain
for the wild commoner. How absurdly
inappropriate, that their dear, great king
would take a peasant as bride, and so young!
With swarthy skin, and acorn colored eyes,
and charcoal hair. Woe! Sweet Queen Eliza,
of golden locks and eyes emerald green,
would die of shame - to see her faithful king
bed such a woman, let alone crown her
with the diadem that she had worn first -
were she not already cold in her grave.
It did not feel real to her. Even as
their hateful whispers echoed in her ears.
Even as her royal groom whisked her out
of the church and to the carriage and he
squeezed her hand, fondly kissing her bare neck
as they approached the castle. Even as
the minstrels played and nobles spewed phony
compliments like toxic honey for the
newlyweds as everyone drank, feasted,
and danced at the wedding banquet. She saw
more food than she had known existed; but
she could hardly eat.
Even as she felt
him take her hand and gladly lead the way
to their bedchamber, aglow with candles
and she heard him lock the door. Even as
he carried her to the bed. Even as
he shed his coat and belt, and stroked her neck
and hair and arms and back and face and lips.
It did not feel real. Only numb.
she felt him break her vulnerable flesh.
Pain pierced the very depths of her. The dream
over now, forever. Was this marriage?
She had never known the body of man.
No one ever told her the mystery
of summer twilights, of lovers at dusk.
She had not expected anything but
to be embraced and caressed as he had
done before, and she had borne, in quiet
contentment, void of lust, happy only
to be wanted. But this electric shock
raced through her nerves, and she could bear no more.
She sobbed and pushed against his heaving chest.
At her resistant cry, he pulled away.
He looked at her, his lust dissipated
as he saw her tears. “My love!” he murmured,
disturbed by her grief, shocked and ashamed to
hear the way she wept. He had not meant harm…
Had no one warned her, of a virgin’s ache?
His tender bride, his angel of new hope
recoiled from his touch.
He rolled over and smoothed away her tears
though she shrunk from his hand. “Forgive me, love.
I swear to soothe the damage I have done.”
His voice was tender, empathetic, warm.
“I love you,” he swore, “and I seek to please!”
With husky murmurs, he sweetly crafted
a requiem for virgin-hood.
heard nothing. The peasant girl thought only
of the vibrant crimson drops she had spilled;
such scarlet had poured from her father’s chest
on the battlefield, turning grass to rust.
He had thrown himself at the enemy
to protect the king, and welcomed in him
the foreign sword that pierced right through his starved,
unarmored peasant frame. It had killed him,
but not before he had murdered his foe
in final, fatal vengeance. He tumbled
to the ground, at the feet of the shocked king
who knelt beside his doomed savior subject
and cried, “Thank you, my friend…My poor, good friend!
Tell me, what is your name?” Her father smiled
his last, grimace-like grin, as he sucked air.
He clutched his king with the last of his strength.
“Find my daughter,” he breathed, “provide for her.
Naomi is her name... Sweet Naomi.”
He had laughingly sobbed,
Blood red. Blood red.
The memory haunted
the king, who was noble and true. He sought
to find the maiden. When at last he found
her dwelling, sequestered in the forest,
he could scarcely believe that anyone
could live in such a place, isolated,
with wolves for neighbors, and only the moon
for light. A drab little cottage, of wood
and mud, and a sad little weed garden.
He had found her at the well. When she saw
him, on his white horse, and armored, and crowned,
she stared, wide-eyed, but said nothing.
pounded as he observed her. He had thought
she would be a child, a girl in two braids
prancing through an apple orchard, her Ma
chasing after her, laughing. Before him
stood a woman, cloaked in sorrow and fear,
who seemed to know, before he gently told,
that her father - her only kin - had died.
Her eyes were hunted, and haunted, and lost.
She was quiet, but in her heart turmoil
brewed like a winter storm. He asked after
her mother, and she whispered she had died.
She had no siblings. She was all alone,
Shivering, barefoot, and with dirty hands.
He could not look away from her. Her grief,
her violet twilight heartache, cast a spell
over him, for he recognized the ache.
But there was something sweeter in her looks.
He saw in her wide eyes, like deep-set gems
her tremulous lips, and dew-moistened locks,
a beauty, rough and picturesque, and new…
And he had known then, that he never could
marry her off to some nobleman, or
give her money and leave her in these woods,
or make her a lady’s maid. He knew then –
from the way she held herself, quietly
poised, and yet wild…
like a majestic wolf that stares into
your soul to see if you are friend or foe –
that he needed her, as she needed him.
Without the faintest quick heartbeat of doubt,
he offered her himself, his greatest gift
his heart and hand and crown. She accepted.
And here they were, husband and second wife.
Brought together by murder, then by lust.
Her father crowned her by his sacrifice.
Now they were sealed together in blood, twice.
Blood in, blood out.
As he kissed her, she lay
lost in her thoughts, imagining the woods,
pretending his whiskers were the needles
of the pines she buried her face in when
she felt all alone, and tasting apples
on his lips, which smelled like ale and longing.
Thank you for reading this excerpt from my newest work-in-progress, "A Queen of Blood." A novella in narrative poetic form, "A Queen of Blood" re-imagines the Snow White tale in a way you've never read before. Immerse yourself in the classic story through the eyes of Naomi, a young, melancholy peasant girl chosen by the widower king as his bride. Become a part of the intrigue as wide-eyed Naomi navigates a tumultuous relationship with her step-daughter, Blanche - a manipulative, seductive young woman hungry for power. Drama, romance, and blood-thirst combine in this surreal retelling.
Details as Requested
Working Title: A Queen of Blood
Genre: Narrative Poetry, Romance, Suspense, Fairytale
Age Range: 16 + (due to some sexually suggestive and violent content)
Target Audience: Poetry readers & fairytale lovers ages 16 + (most likely female)
Author Name: “Lenore” (aka, M.C. Please inquire privately via Prose message for full name, age, and hometown, or contact me at email@example.com)
Bio: I am an undergraduate student of English Literature and Government, and a part-time classical soprano. I currently study at Dartmouth College and write for the platform Prose. I pride myself on my diligence, attention to detail, and intellectual curiosity. My writing consists mostly of poetry, including free verse, metric formal, tanka, and haiku, but I also enjoy writing prose in the historical fiction and fantasy genres. My hobbies include classical singing, Irish dance, and academic tutoring.
(c) Lenore, 2017.
Photo Credit: Sonam Kapoor (I do not own this image)
This is my first go at a project of this type, so I'd love to hear from fellow writers/readers about whether this is something you would be interested in reading in full. I realize that narrative poems aren't for everyone, and this piece is especially (and intentionally) surreal and bizarre, so I hope you will check out some of my more mainstream works if this isn't your cup of tea. ;-) I consider this "formal" verse, but it is not intended to be metric. There are, however, 10 syllables per line. Thanks so much again for reading!