But He Spun So Well

He was, no one would argue,
A nasty little man,
Wizened and dirty and
Possessed of a sidewise tongue
That muttered inappropriate truths
At inopportune moments,
And besides, he just looked wrong,
Squinting and knowing and sly, but
She had, she was forced to admit,
Made a bargain, and a bargain
Must be seen to be honored,
Especially by social climbing spinners
With aspirations to the throne, and
He did, she couldn't deny,
Spin a roomful of stable-muck
Widdershins and back,
Til it was gleaming in the morning
Like new-minted princess-hair, and
After that night spent dreaming while he spun
She had, to the delight of an heirless King,
Produced a healthy, screaming, defecating boy
From out those lovely peasant hips, and so
He was, according to that midnight hour pact,
Entitled to take off with the gold and pink cherub
Clutched in those grimy talons,
Stealing away into the gloom
Of whatever back-alley faeryland
Such smelly little fellows call home, but
She did, if the truth be told,
Have a certain partiality
Towards the tiny royal brat,
Having spent so many months
In such intimate quarters with him,
And more, a certain liking,
Having increased with time, for her own head,
Which would most certainly be
Removed from her possession under sharp circumstances
If she handed the newborn prince
To the squalid wee goblin man, so
They struck, as two so at odds will often do,
A newer bargain, she in a very attractive desperation,
He with a raspy, gargled laugh
And a slitwise smile she would never mistake
For generosity, and thus,
She searched, with a country mother's hearthborn will
And a city queen's adopted power, for the hint of a snatch
Of a whisper of a tale or a song or
Some underworld census that would tell her
His precious, bloody, name,
So she could offer it up to him with a smile
And a flip of her hair, and keep at home the boychild
In his princely cradle in her queenly rooms, and
He did, being what he was, everything he could
To help her on her way, paying pageboys to laugh it
Behind taverns, strumpets to whisper it
To their guardsman lovers, visiting merchants
To mutter it, muddy children to sing it as they
Jumped rope in the streets, and still
She had, having only the resources of the best-arrayed
Group of gossips and spies and tale-tellers in the land,
Heard nothing, stamped her size-five foot in frustration,
Two nights in a row, until at last
He had, growing tired of the chase and the waiting and
The interminable twiddling of grimy thumbs,
Lured the vice-chancellor of the privy boudoir
To a tiny clearing on the edge of polite society
And danced his dance and sang his song
For his unsuspecting audience, so that
She would, straggle-haired and hopeless in the last hours,
Rocking the fat prince-price in her arms,
Finally hear, (but never understand)
The name that would buy her life and time
And ten odd years to reign
Before the enthusiastic and rather too fertile king
Wore her out with the next ten, and
She did, waiting, pacing, hear, and did wait,
Standing with a half-mad smile of glee, until
He heard, black scowl plastered across his wrinkly face,
"Rumplestiltskin!" shouted in the moonless room,
And could finally stamp his size-twelve foot
With a satisfying crack, opening the fissure
Back to where he'd been wanting to be all along, and
She would never, crooning joyfully, mindlessly, to the wriggler
In her arms, the one who would grow, but not much,
Who would always be playing in the mud
And whispering vicious truths
To his sisters, with a merry grin,
And making her wish
She could still spin straw to gold
To pay for all the leather for all those shoes,
She would never know, ever, that
He wasn't, with a slitted grin
And a wondrous hand at the loom
And a brat in every kingdom in the west,
Called Rumplestiltskin
Any more than she was,
Or rather, as his name was legion, he could have been, but
He preferred, on the whole, to be rather more subtle about things.