She never wanted the troll,
though, when freeing his beard
trapped in the bill of a circling bird,
when sliding her scissors through the soft
hairs at the nub of his chin, she did
think the shadow dropping from the gull’s
wings lent his face a certain ugly interest.
She never wanted the prince’s brother,
second prize to the elder, but just as vain,
with a woman’s soft hips and hands,
surrounding himself with mirrors and liking
her sister better anyway, her indiscriminate
sweetness; an ordinary fruit ripening
in a bowl displayed on a public table.
And she did not want the bear
their mother invited next to the fire,
though his stinking fur could make
her eyes and mouth water. Once, she devised
a way to lie beside him, innocently
at first, then not so, curled behind him,
running her thumbnail down his spine.
What she wanted, of course, was her own place in the forest,
where she would take the flowering trees
that grew outside her mother’s bedroom windowone
white, buxom with albino blossoms,
one red, smaller, with delicate, hooked thorns –
and plant them on opposite sides of her cottage,
watching each bloom fall as summer spoiled them.
Copyright © 1995 Erin Belieu
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.