Wishes Three: Time Travel

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Wishes Three: Time Travel poem by Darlene Witte

My little-girl-heart broke open with wonder
when I first heard the Call of Magic
and the promise of Wishes Three.
Three Wishes? For me?

I had no will to resist. None.
I knew how much I would do with three wishes.
I wouldn’t waste them, no, not me.
I was in the game from that moment on
never to drop out, never to let go.

Did I pause to ask why it is
that in the little girl magic stories
when one is given three wishes
everything seems to go wrong,
over and over and over again?
Nobody gets it right?

No, I was too busy counting.
Lost in my own triple rhythm. Dreaming.
Seeking my own Cinderella freedom from bondage,
my release from scrubbing pots among the cinders
while awaiting my own true love.

That was my first wish, of course: To find my own true love!

Did I think to ask why magic is so . . .
so like justice . . .so rough?
So clean, so clear. . . so hot. . .?
So like an arrow in the heart
a zing, a hit that has traveled through time?

No, I moved in stead-y-waltz-one-two-threes
tip-tip-tapping my feet
listening, waiting for that one chance to be offered everything.
Grasping for the one right move that
would let me, Me,
not someone else, Me, dance with the Prince
open the Magic Box, catch the Wild Horse
pocket the Golden Egg, find the Fairy Scarf
wear Singeli’s Silver Slippers. . .
and I would float effortlessly
where others might falter, lose their way. Fail, mud-bound.

So, step-step-by-step
wanting, longing, waiting. . .

To be loved without end – that was my second wish
(and to know I deserved it, to know I deserved it!)
(Could I ever deserve it?)
and to be able to heal pain, (mine and others’)
with the merest glance. . .the gentlest touch…

My third wish was much like the first: For my beloved
to come, to come, to come. . .
To hear the tinkle of my perfect laughter
(and take care of me, never ever again ever
let me be hungry or cold or lonely or sad)…

But my youth drained away in endless blind alleys,
in frantic plunges underground
where, silver thread in hand
I lost my way among shadows
among companions that tangled
wrangled, that slid across my path
one flowing shape of grey upon grey after another,
all of us the blind, the halt and the lame.

Were these shadows meant to be something more?
Yes, meant to be something more. . .

Magic, even the three wishes kind, I began to see
Is not just given.
It is a trust earned in the every-day
amidst that shifting flood of
forms-not-formed, the never-quite-clear. . .
it’s a search among the cinders. . .

And slowly, so slowly rose a new living flame
that caught me in its heat, and I
began to beat, to beat, to beat
to whirl again upon the wheel, destiny shifting
ever so slowly, one beat at a time. . .

And in that rhythm, in that slower one, two, three
I learned how to spin shadows into gold: Like the girl in Rumplestiltskin!
To bring them into play, draw them out
give them a push, some scrubbing up, straighten them out
all with a gentle swoosh of triple-step-syncopated rhyme. . .
And do it freely, just in time, in time, in time.
More time passed, long past, and the arrow flew
past, long-longing passed
and the counting began to close, three, two, one.

I looked up from my wheeling, my whirling
my spinning, my triple-step-stepping
I slowed. I paused. I waited. . .

What did I see?
I saw before me The Magic Box!
Opened! A golden egg! The very one!
And those three wishes (I’d waited so long, so long) became one, One.

A single beat, a chime
(too often lost, I fear. . .one must be listening when it falls upon the inner ear)
in that soft-open-moment
where what has long ago passed flows into the now, to become the then. . .the when. . .

And the alone-lonely Prince
(dancing slowly, so slowly) in his triple-trip-time . . .
slowed, he paused, he waited. . . looked up. Saw. Me. He. Saw. Me.
He heard that single beat, that chime.
He grasped the soft-open-moment
where his past flowed into mine. . .

The magic hidden, living wild in all the stories I’d ever known. . .awoke!
There. She. Was. Singeli. Come to me, finally, of course on a moon-beam. . .
Shimmering, she shook her fairy scarf.
Sparkle drifted down
once across his eyes, twice across mine
thrice over us. . . together. . .
And she laughed, ran, in her silver slippers, glee splashing everywhere,
She dropped, as she passed, a pair for me to wear. . .
and danced all the way back into the shining sheen of the moon. . .

And soon, soon, the Prince shifted-shape
he moved, reached out, stepped in
turned me around and upside down. . .

My own silver-haired love!
There he was.
I found him, and he found me.
And that is my tale of wishes three.

Note: The story of Singeli has always fascinated me. She appears in The Giant Golden Book of Elves and Fairies in a story by Martha Inez Johnson.
ISBN-10: 0375844260 ISBN-13: 978-0375844263

Darlene Witte
Darlene Witte

Professor of Education, (retired) at Johnson State College in Vermont leads the Green Mountain Writers' Poetry & Performance workshop that meets on Zoom each month on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7 PM ET. Find out more at https://www.meetup.com/green-mountain-writers

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