Size / / /

I was laughing when I died,

picturing the face some future prince

might make when, having hacked

through giant rosebush thorns

and climbed the haunted tower,

he sees the spindle broken and the bed

unmade. We ran out at the last,

my virgin blood still wet between my thighs.

Let the spurned witch-sister

and the so-called fairy godmothers

duke out what history is writ.

Poor planning lets fate devour

the happy story here-and-now.

Destiny wants purity and light

and most of all submission, so

the scullery maid fisted me to ecstasy.

The curse broke like the chiming of a clock.

Time to grow up, unconcerned

by princess pink and bridal white. My passion

saved my life: city, apothecary's shop,

both a husband and a wife,

and grandchildren, bored, about my deathbed–

I would not have waited for a single man,

no matter what his charms,

for what I made with my two hands.




Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her poetry, stories, and nonfiction have appeared in The Cascadia Subduction ZoneShenandoah, and Sky & Telescope, respectively. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.
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13 May 2024

This variation on the elixir of life pairs the flavour of roasted roc with the medicinal potency of the philosopher’s stone. But buyer beware: this dish isn’t for everyone.
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