RanThorskeggaThe Pirate Queen in the storybooks
Riding her full-breasted ship, pistols cocked
And ready to shoot, coat scarlet and brass
And plumed hat at a jaunty angle. The dark-eyed
Highwaywoman on the white horse, provoking screams
From the stopped carriage - "Hand over your jewels!"
And away she goes, into the adolescent girl's
Adventure novel. The robber maiden in the
Snow Queen, tickling her reindeer’s chin with
Sharp knives, someday to steal some robber lad’s
Heart, and have him quailing under her even sharper
Tongue. And, of course, La Belle Dame Sans Merci,
Stealing that even more vaunted jewel,
A young man’s heart and veritable manhood. Row
After row of ruthless women, taking what they wanted
And vanishing into the sunset.

They have nothing on you, Lady.
Next to your cold, cold eyes, they all pale
Into all-too-human fantasy. Your sharp green glance
Is a stiletto, the slow turn of your head
A warning siren, your smile a razor knife
Opening with a click. Lady, I call you, and some
Would read your name from that history, Rani,
Yet others call you by the other meaning -
Robber. Thief of Ships. You see what you want,
Bobbing about on the surface like a toy, and reach
Your delicate hand to take it, and that is all.
Jewels. Guns. Bodies. Souls.
How many rings lost from fingers waving
In the surf, how many gold chains slipped soundlessly
From swimming necks? You still take your toll,
Your tax for our trespass on your waters, and count it fair.
The sailors, too. Why, your husband sees that they are fed,
And when you tire of them, they go to Hel,
To be fed further - what more to ask? Pirate Queen
Of all the seas, hair wound up in all the weeds
From tidepool to distant tidepool, Ran’s truth is sharp
And her kingdom beautiful, and we can never resist it,
No matter how hard we try.


Artwork by Thorskegga Thorn.