Once Upon A Very Dirty Borough
By Kiara McLarty
The Princess of New York City struggles to literally find her voice and come into her inheritance—a stutter, and the power to speak.
Once upon a very dirty borough, Upon a very not-so-quiet neighborhood, And upon a definitely rhythmic reggae household, Lay a forgotten princess trapped in a castle. This princess, not like the others, had a curse bestowed upon her. This curse was passed on from generation to generation And for if she didn’t break this curse, she will not be able to seize her throne. For this curse prevented her from speaking. Her vocal cords would rattle and she would grip her tiara to push the words out Clearly unable to rule her kingdom, according to the peasants. Complaints after complaints pervaded the town. They sought a new monarch after the death of the king four months ago. They needed a leader, and they needed one now. Leaving the princess feeling trapped for she was the king’s only heir Causing her to stay in her tower to avoid the verbal harassment. The princess lay in her royal bed and contemplated her options, She could step up and claim herself as the king’s daughter and lead her city Or she could stay hidden in her tower and mourn the loss of her father. She knew she would be a great leader for the kingdom. She breathes through the aroma of taco and halal trucks. She walks on the beat of the music of the streets. She understood the dirt under the fingernails. But what could she do with no one giving her the chance to speak? How do you speak for the oppressed when you’re oppressed yourself? How do you empower the powerless without a voice? After days of contemplation, she sought advice from her royal advisor, her mother. Her mother who understood this curse more than anyone. Her mother who, herself, had a stutter. A stutter she was able to overcome due to the love she had for her city. Her mother advised her to imagine what her father would have wanted, and left the princess alone to ponder. The princess lay restless in her gold fortress and thought about what was stopping her. This curse, passed on from generation to generation It was not a curse, but indeed a blessing. She held not only the right to speak, but the power to change the world. The power to make her kingdom into a better place And the power to do so with her voice. Once trapped in her castle, She now breaks free, and reigns the day.
Kiara and Caroline collaborated remotely via video chat and live Google Docs, sending video and audio clips week to week between brainstorming sessions. Early discussions we had about Kiara’s stutter and goals in life inspired these pieces because this was our way of reclaiming the power of speech.
Kiara McLarty is a New York native and amateur chef who enjoys watching movies and exploring the city. Her poetry reflects its intense diversity and immaculate flavors.