by Laura Madeline Wiseman

To touch a curve of pale flesh—
creamy throat of the adolescent
glowing with new light—at day’s end
as the embers smolder and blacken
is to be sat down
in that thrown in that castle
where she sways still:
a young girl
walking the stone corridors,
the once-held visage of the mirror glittering
in shadows, until she cloaked
the gilded surface in cloth: is
to feel it squirm: the throat
closing, choking on the apple
a breathless gasp on loss—jealousy
We would free her from it if we could,
and then we remember the knife
he slashed into a stag, feel the heart
warm and heavy in his bag—how
bowing he offered it to her
and let the girl disappear into the forest
as if she could be contented by the switch,
the lie, and yet for a time she was.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is from my manuscript, Wake. Taking up the death narratives of those gendered female, Wake traces contemporary and ancient myths where death assumes the form of mother, sister, and girlfriend as she meets her female kin—murderers, victims, competitors to match blow by blow. Here, those who are feminine journey to and arrive in realms both dark and familiar as they seek to know what life offers after death has visited.

IMAGE: Illustration from Snow White by Franz Jüttner (1910).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of American Galactic (Martian Lit Books, 2014), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014), Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012), and the collaborative book Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014) with artist Sally Deskins, as well as two letterpress books, and eight chapbooks, including Spindrift (Dancing Girl Press, 2014). She is the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Wiseman has a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has received an Academy of American Poets Award, the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship, and her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, Feminist Studies, and in the anthologies The Places We’ve Been, Dispatches from the Classroom, Every River on Earth, and The Untidy Season.