Imaginary Tower by Margaret King

Moonless night,
no long golden hair to let down.

My tower–purely imaginary–
exists upon an expanse of human settlement.

“Water, water everywhere
But not a drop to drink.”

Witch, princess, queen, maiden
Rolled into one.

No seven dwarves to call on,
or fairies three–
these require humility,
obedience, pliancy,
Secrecy.

Princes–
valiant liberators dealing deathly thrusts
wounding parts of the psyche
best left untouched.

Princes–rescuers, murderers–
Both in one.

Fathers–
never there.

Mothers–
always dying.

Towers–
our salvation and doom.

Protection, isolation:
Two sides of one consoling coin.

Bricks and boiling oil–use as needed,
Apply liberally.

Flowers, little birds,
church mice and crickets,
doves, wishing wells–
our last hope.

Source: The famous lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Method: Reading “water, water, everywhere/but not a drop to drink” in middle school was the first time a poem had really stuck with me. The desperation in those lines evoked such a vivid image in my mind that I discovered, for the first time, how effective poetry could be, and how it could express emotions and situations in a mere line of words. I’ve created a new poem from these famous lines to express a modern twist on older fairy tale circumstances, which in this case, are figurative.

Margaret King is a Wisconsin writer who enjoys penning poetry, short stories, and young adult novels. In her spare time, she likes to haunt the shores of Lake Michigan, similar to many of her fictional characters.