by Rachel Swirsky
On her wedding day
she is red and black and white:
cheeks flushed with desire,
dark hair spilling over bridal gown.
She sits before her mirror,
toasting the best man.
He smiles, tips scarlet tablets
into her ruby wine. “To celebrate,”
he says. He is the huntsman, dark
burning before her wild, confused brain.
Slashes, wails – now, he is dragging her
through black forests of lamp-posts
toward a white-walled hacienda,
skylights shining down on
alabaster vases, cement sculptures,
carpets pale as innocence.
Into her ear he whispers desire
for her secret, inevitable ruby
cut from her chest and stowed
in a box beneath his pillow.
Drugs distort his face:
huntsman, dwarf, neglectful father,
he could be any of the men who’ve trailed
black wounds across her soul.
Her prince was a mirage
dreamed between bloodthirsty men.
This story is red with her own blood.
To live it is to bleed.
He pulls away, drags her
to a bedroom lined with mirrors
diamond facets like coffin walls.
She hallucinates witches
black in mirrored depths,
cackling at her and her and her and her
in a thousand refractions.
She is fairest of all.
She is white as diamond.
She hitches her wedding gown
and runs into the mirrors
to shatter the coffin
to slip into a tale
of beige and pink
More from Rachel Swirsky:
Rachel Swirsky holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her short fiction and poetry has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies, and her poem “The Oracle on River Street” placed third in the 2006 Rhysling awards. Her first collection, a slim volume of feminist poetry and fiction titled THROUGH THE DROWSY DARK, came out from Aqueduct Press in 2010. Her lifelong adoration for fairy tale retellings began with the VHS tapes that her god-mother (non-fairy-type) used to make of Shelley Duvall’s Fairy Tale Theatre.