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4 The Princess

mirror4THAT WAS NO LIPSTICK: it was a chip she’d dipped in ketchup. A tiara would be
the height of vulgarity.’

Imagine if her buckle spelled ‘Peace’ or bore the Toyota glyph
unwittingly; or she named her daughter Toya. Not on your royal jelly! The
palace is omniscient these days. Even the secret tattoo is chronicled and
parsed, and indeed is the subject of a no less secret report. Anxiety,
however, is devolved: that’s the business of the royal household.

1st – The Future Princess
She fences deftly with her moral tutor, a feminist luminary, expert in
literary economics. Meeting His Holiness at a charity disco, she makes an
indelible impression. A provocative and compelling Titania, she dislikes
her Bottom, a mechanical roué on the make, seducing himself on stage.

2nd – The Princess in Love
Much in the public eye, the young lovers smoulder in a restaurant after
weeks apart. He’s in uniform, a colonel still. She adores that asymmetric
smile with its twist of inborn shyness. Security harrumphs. There’s
something on the menu that sounds rude, so of course she has to order it.

3rd – The Frog Princess
The Fabergé barouche or the Waterford landau? While she’s dithering,
the prince makes a bonfire of her frog skin, unaware that her amphibious
probation is only days from full term. A clot of pigeons masks the sun.
Rioters swarm through the Tuileries. The whole world changes hands.

4th – The Princess of Darkness
Fireworks explode in the night: a startled exit from a taxi. The other side is
a private cloud of unknowing, whose raindrops are the only pearls left. A
meteoric alpha commoner has emptied her portfolio, stripping their waltz
of all but the quavers of romance, and making it more passionate.

5th – The Travelling Princess
You swim in her bridal grief-song, a lake of yearning in the forest. There’s
jumping – over a broomstick, a boiling kettle, a bowl of wine and urine.
Two weeks later her train is the longest ever, flowing down the aisle, a
river, out through doors left open all through the ceremony.

6th – The Princess of Charity
A lifeguard for the national gene pool, she enjoys robots designed by
children fighting with each other, bloodlessly. Other kids she weans off
parkour. Raiments of Wicca fluttering still, she turns to animals, sluicing
the manger of the butcher-perfumiers – a clean sweep of fragrance.

All six – The Intimate Princess
The young pretender’s underlook is the apparatus of sincerity, the crown
jewels of suffering. The princess steps nimbly onto the high wire,
embarrassing the Commonwealth’s living rooms. Fame forfeits the right
to a net. Magna Carta’s small print is scattered to the four winds.

Introduction to Six-Way Mirror | The Index of Hexagrams and Cantos




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