by Molly Meacham

Mother, their fingers press soot
into my skin.

I dream of lentils in ashes,
of dress-blooming trees in graveyards,
of pigeons sacrificed, split, and read.

I sit by the hearth,
smoke, sift through the cinders.
I think of selling organic dresses,
of performing pumpkin-to-carriage tricks.
It is not enough to sing by windowsills,
to water your grave with salt.

I am an elegant ex-maid:
pink dishpan hands, cracked fingertips
gloved to the elbow for satin touch.
He took the covered hand in marriage.
My fingers ache in sleep—
the sting of soap on stone.

He is so charming that I must scour
for each long blond straw
that has swept our bedroom floor.
He wears gold cufflinks
and the most elegant apron strings
around his neck.

My shoes have cracked like any cheap window
under the body of a woman.

He made me a book.
He made my spine ache.
I am painted—so many formal portraits
with flowers and birds framed by gold.
I am a precious heaviness
hanging in air.

I want to fall from his hands.
I want the pumpkin
to crack. I want his hands
to pull me out still kicking.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I do look to fairy tales and mythology because there is a great deal of nostalgia for me, but I am bothered when I look at the myths and stories I enjoyed as a child. Part of me feels like I want to explore how I would feel as these characters. I predominately choose female voices and free verse, but I will vary from time to time.

IMAGE: “Cinderella” by Edward Burne-Jones (1863).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Molly Meacham is a writer and performer. She has featured in Germany twice with the Speak’Easy Ensemble directed by Marc Smith. She is a writing and performing member of the Chicago Slam Works House Ensemble. She has had poems published with journals including, The Foundling Review, The New Verse News, and Right Hand Pointing. She co-edited Write Bloody’s Learn Then Burn Teachers Edition. She teaches in a Chicago Public School the rest of her time.