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The Princess and the Frog

By Archita Mittra in Issue Twelve, December 2023

is this how all things end?
with a croak, a hiss, broken glass—
some spilled wine, a sliver of blood
and slime, trailing ever after.

tell me something else, then.
where the frog never becomes a prince.
that way she never marries a man
whose kisses are a mossy damp,
in whose breath she can smell algae
and underwater dirt as he pulls her to bed,
a sticky tongue across wet cheeks.
where the princess' golden ball remains
drowned in a green pond that yellow evening,
and she learns a lesson or two
about carelessness.

years later,
and his eyes are still green
as a choked pond, and her father, a skeleton
barking orders at the back of her mind
and her heart, a lamp
sputtering for oil.
oh, for promise is a ring
she can never take off—

once upon a time,
the queen thinks,
in her old starless garden,
cups strewn among the weeds,
wishing that she could have been
something other than a bedtime lie
and her prince anyone but a frog
who croaks a love poem
every now and then,
swallowing flies.

© 2023 Archita Mittra

Archita Mittra

Archita Mittra (she/they) is a writer, editor, and artist. Her poetry has been published in Thought Catalog, Star*Line, Eye to the Telescope, Mithila Review, and others, while her fiction and non-fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Tor.com, Locus Magazine, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons, and The Portalist, among others. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart and best of the net prizes and long-listed for the Toto Award. She lives in Kolkata, India with her family and rabbits, and may be found haunting Twitter and Instagram @architamittra.

Poetry by Archita Mittra
  • The Princess and the Frog