From reading ancient bedtime stories
in the pages of an ebook,
The Brave Little Knight believes
he can find a living legend.
He has seen it mentioned
in the writings of declassified documents,
graffitied on magic shop windows
and posted in the tweets of teenagers.
The young knight decides that she must be real,
and one day he gathers up a satchel
filled with his Swiss-army knife,
a pack of life savers,
a key to a secret lock,
$2.57 in change,
a fake mustache,
a playing card (the seven of hearts),
and almost 100 feet of dental floss
wrapped tightly around a fountain pen,
and sets off to find the creature.
Our tiny hero wanders the tree-lined
city streets with only an outline
of what she might look like.
He’s heard that she seems old for her age,
like eighty between her teeth
(which is where one can often tell years of wisdom,
from claw marks of childhood cavities
or oral hygiene in days of old.)
He’s heard she keeps dreams
chilled in her refrigerator,
and opens the frigid things
only to make guest appearances in winter.
He’s heard she eats up knights
with a side of toast
to sop up all the juicy bits left on the plate.
But despite these claims, he searches still.
After an afternoon wishing he packed
a stash of peanut butter pretzels,
the tired knight makes a last stop
at the library, to rest his throbbing feet
on a stack of books.
It is there that he sees her,
a string of cinders at first,
with a face hidden by
the mess of crimson hair
that billows like the arid breath
in a dragon’s lungs.
He cannot look away,
even though his eyes face
the danger of blindness from
gawking at the sun too long.
She notices his stares,
“Can’t you see I’m reading?”
she explains slowly,
like he has the vocabulary
of a three-year old and cannot begin
to comprehend the simple sentence.
Proving her right, the Brave Knight
can only manage a quaking, “Uuh…”
Luckily, he has the foresight to offer up
a life saver from his satchel,
which may very well be what rescued him
from certain death.
The legend disappears beneath a blanket of
book jackets along with
a mischievous grin.
After a few seconds, our little tin soldier
hears, “Aren’t you going to come inside?”
from behind the wall of writing.
The leather covers
envelop them like pillow forts
built to defend against
the monsters they will face
hand in hand.