Thorns and Briars
by Theodora Goss
I locked my heart in a box
and put that box on a shelf
high in the room of a house
surrounded by thorns and briars.
They parted to let me through,
then closed behind me again,
and I went out into the world
unafraid, because heartless.
I did the work I was told,
completed the tasks I was given,
nodded and smiled, so they thought
I was such a reliable girl.
But all that time, my heart
was beating in a box
made of some fancy wood
inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
I gathered credentials, gained
titles and honors, was granted
suitable recompense —
while the thorns and briars grew higher
until you could no longer see
the small gray house behind,
and my heart was safe on the shelf
from either theft or scrutiny.
The thorns and briars will only
part for the one predestined
to rescue my heart from the box —
so someday, I’ll return
and open the gate. Then the tangle
of thorns and briars will part
to make a path to the door
of the house, and all the roses,
the simple dog-roses, the elegant
albas, gallicas, portlands
on those canes will burst into bloom,
white and pink and red.
In the room, surrounded by books
and dust, I will take the box
off the shelf and reclaim my heart
(The painting is Sleeping Beauty by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.)