The Story I Didn’t Tell
by Phyllis Klein

When I married you, a thousand
of your wives’ corpses covered my path
to the altar. My father tried to dissuade me,
I only wanted to save those remaining,
and put an end to your vengeance
if I could. In private I’ll admit I cringe
from your tainted touch, your criminal mind.
My thousand sisters murdered to avenge
your one cheating wife. My dreams overflow
with them when I sleep at all.

That’s how my thousand and one stories help
us both, distract us from your cruelty
and violence. In the book about me,
I am not afraid, but don’t believe it.
How have I done this night after night?
Thought up the genies, the djins, the wandering
mysteries like water drops forming a lake,
forming an ocean, keeping me alive
another day and then another.

Don’t be sad for me. I have used my mind
for peace. I have done what I could in a disaster.
I have travelled in secret, I have altered
the veil of bedtime forever.

PAINTING: “Scheherazade” by Sophie Anderson (c. 1850).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love to hear stories and to tell stories in my poems, and I especially love bedtime stories. My partner reads children’s stories to me at night to help me fall asleep. So when I thought about this prompt, Scheherazade came to mind for me immediately. I wanted to know what it was like to be in the position of extreme self-sacrifice to save others, having to make up stories to survive, and what it felt like on the inside of that. It’s an honor to step a tiny way into the shoes of this heroine.


Phyllis Klein
believes in poetry. Her work has appeared in the Pharos of Alpha Omega Medical Society Journal, Emerge Literary journal, Qarrtsiluni online literary magazine, Silver Birch Press, and The Four Seasons Anthology (Hurricane Press, 2015). She is very interested in the conversation between poets and readers of poetry. She sees artistic dialogue as an intimate relationship-building process that fosters healing on many levels. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area as a psychotherapist and poetry therapist. You can learn more at her website,

AUTHOR PHOTO: Phyllis Klein, 2014, taken at Filoli Garden, Woodside, California.