Aleksandra McKinnies


The Princess Year

For a year I drew princesses with tall cone hats–not crowns. Crowns were for queens
cone hats with long trailing ribbons flowing from the very tip down nearly to the floor. 

And puffy sleeves. Big round puffy sleeves.
And pink–Of course, pink

My grandma’s sewing room had a little painted cabinet of thimbles,
each princess in their own solitary tower. 

I lined them up and gave each of my fingertips a little hat–
these hats didn’t have any ribbons. 

Yards of pink fabrics, glossy, shiny, sparkling
spilled over from the sewing machine with a ch-ch-ch-ch-ch

My grandma never had a daughter. She wanted a daughter so bad, and I
wanted a princess hat so bad, so there I was on Halloween, a vision in pink gossamer and glitter.

The next year I was a cowboy.


In the dusty backyard tool shed my papaw retreats to,
We find the bleached bull skull–Moss growing out of its sockets,
Crafting a veil that tangles up around its horns.

My brother places it like a crown upon his head–
King of the world if the world could be restricted to
A backyard deep in the woods overlooking that creek.

And we rule that world as two twin souls–crowned 
Both by acorns, lined like centurions with helmets proud and 
By burning leaves as fall descends like curtains separating home from wild.

O brother of mine, binary star swirling in childish–uneven gait
Through constellations forming stories we crafted 
Outside the confines of a rickety trailer. 

O backyard swing, the chariot for this barefoot royalty–
Feet touching the sky with the grass overhead,
Ceiling of this kingdom.

O childhood, the hierophant dictating through the force of memory–
Mud and sticks and cicada shells the building blocks of who we became
When the dust finally settled.

When we realized a dusty cow skull

Was only that.

Aleksandra McKinnies attends Lawrence University and believes considering Pride and Prejudice (2005) the best movie ever made is a valid personality. She owns over 100 individual types of tea. She is definitely still hip and cool despite her 10:30 bedtime and newfound embroidery hobby. Sometimes she writes poetry.

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