A variation on the child's tale. Winner of the Fantasy Unraveled Contest, May 2021.
The Beanstalk and Jack
Near the underbelly of the cloud
it darkens unexpectedly,
no longer echoes the soft, white dream
drifting in the silent distance,
but now a brooding presence,
tangible and overhead.
The beanstalk disappears at once
into the grey and ominous mass
and Jack, resolved upon adventure,
keeps climbing, leaf by leaf,
hands gripping, feet thrusting,
ever upward to meet his doom.
Inside the sodden mist of gloom,
another world envelopes
and reassures the errant boy,
all looming threat is swallowed
in the vague and soundless murk,
the breath of distant seas inhaled,
he’s soothed with thoughts of foreign shores.
Still he follows the ascending stem,
magical plant of high ambition,
through the vaporous realm of air,
dimly seen but ever present
with clammy fingers caressing skin,
onward and upward his sole intent.
And then the fog begins to clear,
drifts from his vision as the day breaks in,
his head emerging from the mist
to bright sunshine so sharp and clean,
dazzling in the blue above and white,
so white, the clouded landscape now revealed.
There the bulbous mountains tower,
swelling outcrops of growing grandeur,
crowning glory of cumulonimbus
(fitting name for the cloudiest of clouds),
there the deepening vales and canyons,
yawning wide in the billowing land,
and once, an instant’s revelation,
a chasm through to the ground below.
washed with distance, hazed blue and green.
Here, at last, the beanstalk falters,
finds its level and aspiration spent,
stands above the elements, air and water,
green with promise in a foreign land.
No castles here, no giants or treasure,
no adventure or stolen fortune awaits
the young adventurer, emboldened only
to see a sight reserved for eagles,
this land between the earth and heaven,
and maybe this can be enough,
for beauty does not pay a fortune
but gives inspiration beyond a price.
Line count: 52
For Fantasy Unravelled, May 2021
Prompt: Everyone knows that Jack climbed up the giant beanstalk and high up in the sky he found a giant and his treasure. Let’s flip the script a little and take the giant out of the equation. Write me a poem about what Jack discovers instead at the top of that big ol’ beanstalk.