Vox Populi

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Dawn Potter: The Unicorn Is in Captivity and No Longer Dead

                      —scene 7, the Unicorn Tapestries, c. 1500
Which do I like better, someone asks, fork or spoon?
And I reply, That’s not a question for Thursday.
Ask me instead how I lost my virginity,
and I’ll tell you that the only detail I remember
is crying afterward and telling my boyfriend that now
a unicorn would never find me in the forest
and lay his head in my lap.
My boyfriend’s feelings were hurt—the first of many 
mistakes I made as his inamorata—but I digress:
Fork or spoon?
Obviously spoon because it can hold water, it can hold
oats, I can use it to feed the unicorn when he finishes
with his nap. What we’ll do afterward is the big question,
as it always has been, damsel or not.
Maybe we’ll tell a few jokes, maybe we’ll discuss
whose turn it is to empty the compost bucket—
the unicorn and I, in our brocaded prison,
arguing about TV shows or snoring,
eating ice cream out of the container with our useful spoon,
and me saying, “Don’t poke my eye out with that horn,”
and him complaining about my toenails.
It’s how life ends up.

Though I am the one who washes the spoon.


Copyright 2022 Dawn Potter

Dawn Potter directs the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching, held each summer at Robert Frost's home in Franconia, New Hampshire. Her many books include Accidental Hymn (Deerbrook, 2022).

Image: The Unicorn in Captivity tapestry shows the final scene in The Hunt of the Unicorn series of medieval tapestries. The seven Unicorn Tapestries were woven between 1495 and 1505 in Brussels, perhaps commissioned for the wedding of Louis XII of France and Anne of Brittany in 1491.


3 comments on “Dawn Potter: The Unicorn Is in Captivity and No Longer Dead

  1. Barbara Huntington
    September 26, 2022

    Oh I love this one. My morning started with rainbows projected around my altar from the beveled glass in the not-much-China cabinet and now I have rainbows and unicorns. The membrane grows thin in the fall


  2. José A. Alcántara
    September 26, 2022

    Fantastic! I love the ground it covers, how it keeps offering gift after gift as the poem unfolds. Funny yet carrying weight. Wonderful.


    • Vox Populi
      September 26, 2022

      Yes, funny yet carrying weight. Good description of the style of this beautiful poem.



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