poem22 Mar 2021 05:50 pm

Sandi Leibowitz

Night and the forest has come into the kitchen with darkness tangled in its hair.
Angela Carter

Even his eyes have been eaten.
I remember him the way he used to be,
foreign presence entering our cottage
changing everything,
the Bear since swallowed by the prince.
I didn’t want his brother,
naïve duke in silver hose
and adequate broad shoulders.
Be happy, Rose said, beaming,
her wish also command;
we can stay together forever
just as Mama said.
Don’t think I covet my sister’s husband,
the prince with his amiable grin
full of blunt white teeth.
But Bear, oh Bear, what I would give
to feel those ivory fangs
slide slick against my shoulders.
Rose says his fur was brown
but it was the black of loam
to which arboreal dynasties deeded
their thousands of leaves,
black as the night that waited
beyond our fire-lit hearth,
breathing just outside the cottage door.
He wore the secret scent of the woods,
whiff of danger and decay,
savagery of owl,
sacrifice of dove.
Bear’s eyes gleamed more gold
than flame’s play on brass kettle
or bee darting through the dark paths of the hive,
the subtle soul alive.
How could I guess it was not
imprisoned prince
but Bear himself I glimpsed there?
Oh Bear, you have purged the wild within you,
the greenwood gone as if you’d torched the brush.
That’s not even a ghost of you,
the man cloaked in ermine pelt
who rules these marble halls
beside Red Rose, his placid queen.
Cultivated gardens surround us,
and fields tended by peasants
who scrape and smile when we ride through,
barricaded within our tidy carriage.
The woods are miles away.
Now if I would taste the night,
I have only my own heart to visit.


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