WRITING: Three Dresses

Intro: So I did a freewrite with my students, because honestly, it’s one of the few times I write creatively these days, and because the topic was “Fairy Tales,” I decided to write alongside them. It’s good exercise, and I’m trying to do a creative writing assignment for one of my summer classes in a free verse style like Jacqueline Woodson, so I meshed the two together. And ended up writing a free-verse poem of the fairy tales “Donkeyskin.” It was dark and macabre, but I actually liked how it turned out, mostly because I’m surprised I turned anything out in poem-form. It’s a style I normally don’t do to begin with!

Writing: Three Dresses

Marilag Angway
June 2021

Papa was not right in the head,

not since Mama died,

left us divided in a kingdom

without a wife by

Papa’s side.


Papa was not right in the head,

and the people knew,

but they did nothing to

help when he gave his



You look just like

my Becca,

he murmurs one day,


as a nightly songbird,

as a rose.


Papa means to marry.

He means to




Papa was not right in the head,

so when he declares his intentions,

I declare mine.


Three dresses, I say,

three dresses as tribute.


One of the sun, bright and gold and

burnished with gemstones,

blinding in the midday morning.


One of the moon, soothing

glimmering silver,

luminescent in its evening glow.


One of the sky, everchanging

hue of blue and violets, of

sunsets and sunrises, of

dawns and dusks.


Papa was not right in the head,

but he called on his best tailors

and managed the deed,

and managed the deed,

and three dresses were born.


Papa was not right in the head,

and I knew.

I knew.


Gone went the

burnished gold,

luminescent silver,

ever-changing gradient of blue.


Gone went the chest that

kept the fabrics of magic

hidden from the world.


Gone went the donkey,

that skin of mottled brown,

much less magical than the dresses,

but it is a skin I wear,

more precious than the others.


Gone went the dark, songbird locks,

and the dagger that I take to my face,

to mar the beauty that is there,

to make me less like my mother.


Not beautiful like

a songbird,

a rose.


There is no need for that.

There is only need for three dresses.

And a place far from home.

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