Thoughts While Dressing for Dinner

By Pat Nussman

Art by Liz


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Funny, I never cared that much how I looked, before.
As long as I looked proper, official...well, you know.
Like someone in command.
But now I could care less about wrapping myself in
That political disguise, my 'Princess mystique.'
Who would I impress here, anyhow, with my Rebel Leader act,
Except, perhaps, this Lando Calrissian...
Well, perhaps that would be wise; though he doesn't know me
He's playing games of politics as cannily, as carefully
As he is able, as if I were the Emperor himself. Wonder why?
There's always a 'why' with someone like Calrissian. I know his type.
I am his type. Which is why I don't trust him.
Good idea, then, Leia. Around this Calrissian put on carefully
That smooth official face, the diplomatic pose which says:
"Don't try to tangle with me. I'm dangerous."
That's a good gambit.
Meanwhile, on my body I'll place the best Calrissian can provide.
Not for the gambler is this til-now-despised finery, you understand.
But for him. You know: him. The scoundrel, the petty smuggler.
The one I've snapped at, insulted, derided, these three years.
Three years. Why did it take me so long to find
That I have a taste for scoundrels? Especially those
Who can give as good as they take. Who can match me,
Word for word, mind to mind, lips to lips.
And beyond. But I must say that it was worth the wait...
Damn Bespin! You heard me, Calrissian, damn Bespin!
I never wanted to come here. Or, rather, I never wanted
To arrive here...the journey was better than the destination.
Much better.
No need have I to stand here in your clouded city dressed in
Your burgundy silk and cape of lace; Han had plenty of clothes
That fit me well enough to sit in his lounge, aboard the Falcon,
Just talking, or maybe dancing sometimes or playing silly games.
And for the other times, well, we didn't need any clothes.
Hmmmm, that made you blush, didn't it, my friend in the mirror?
And well you should blush, shameless wench that you are!
I had never known you to be so brazen before as you were with Han;
You're showing a new side to yourself, girl, unsuspected.
Han didn't seem surprised, though, to find that part of Leia;
Sometimes I think he knows more about Leia Organa than I do myself.
For when we made love it seemed that he was inside my mind
As well as me.
And every delicious movement that he, I, we, made was as if
We were truly one: one body, one spirit, one mind.
Joined, it seemed, forever...or, at least, for a little forever,
A forever which we two made for ourselves, on the journey to Bespin...
I've warned you now, Leia, you're bound to get maudlin
If you keep thinking about that enchantment that was
And is no more. You've had that forever, you've been with him
Barefoot, laughing, hair hanging down. And now you must deal
With the current bit of eternity. Braid up your hair; that's a good girl.
Calrissian would hardly be impressed by your waist-length mop.
Han liked it, though. Never mind. Adjust your face, Princess,
To that expression of cool indifference that you wore so long.
Never think, never hint of how it once slipped.
It has served you long and well, even though it never
Fooled a certain Corellian.
There, that looks good, and the outfit will do well enough;
At least it isn't white...Now there's a scene to remember:
"Really, Han," I protested, pretending shock. "Such profanity!
What do you mean, that if you never see me in another
Gods-be-damned white outfit again, it still will be too soon?
I'll have you know, pirate, that white is proper, cool, virginal...
Han, stop that laughing, you're going to choke!
Okay, I'll admit that white isn't too appropriate anymore,
Though it isn't very nice of you to point it out:
I'll think about getting new clothes, new colors when we reach Base."
That's what I said and didn't think a thing of the time.
Now I wonder: Will I have a chance, when we return, to get those clothes
Before you lift that hunting bird and leave, with never a backward glance?
No woman has held you before, why should this time be different?
Except...except that I can't believe that what we shared
Was common, everyday. Fate doesn't stack what we had together on shelves,
So that every fool who walks by can snatch it down carelessly to break.
No, couldn't be. Destiny holds it in her hand to give that sharing
Once in a lifetime and only to a few at that.
Or at least that's my theory.
Look, I can almost see her behind me, red-clothes...
(Oh, come on, everyone knows what Destiny looks like.
Everyone on Alderaan, anyway. Or, I should say,
Everyone who used to be on Alderaan. The Goddess was portrayed
Always in red, slender, so light-footed that her arrival was surprising.)
She really didn't sneak up on me, though, but rather
She banged at, rapped impatiently at my shoulder these three years past
(It's hard to get an Organa's attention) to give me this gift,
The gift of sharing with you, and thus, the gift of happiness.
Never really was happy before, you know, only content sometimes,
And there's so much, oh light-years, of difference between the content and
This near-frightening, blown-crystal feeling of joy that surrounds me
Seems so fragile, though, and I fear within me that it can't, won't stay.
But if happiness is to be mine only briefly, then that
Will have to be enough. And gifts freely given should be
Cradled, openhanded, rather than clutched at or hoarded. I know that.
But Listen, Goddess, you'll have to give me strength to relinquish this,
If relinquish it I must. Wouldn't be easy. Or, if it please you, Exalted Lady,
Then let this enchantment last for countless forevers,
An endless voyage, like that voyage we made to Bespin...
Enough Leia, enough. Too long have you been dreaming here,
Reminiscing, hoping for the impossible...or the, at least, improbable;
Joy is only a chance visitor to your straitened chambers. Forget it.
Now is the time to make your appearance. Han should be here soon.
Go out into the lounge, girl, and when he comes, show him a calm face
When you ask him that question of whether he is to go or stay.
And be ready, Princess, with that aloof glance, that air of command,
For Administrator Calrissian will be here quite soon
To take us to dinner.


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