8:4: “Fairest”, by Megan Arkenberg

8:4:  “Fairest”, by Megan Arkenberg
  My beautiful daughter,
  what gift is this you bring me
  on your wedding day?
  Iron shoes? Oh, love,
  I am no fairy anymore
  to be kept away by iron
  nor frightened by the heat!
  Give them here—here, let me dance!
  I was a lovely dancer in my day.
  As lovely, I dare say,
  as you used to be
  that night in the forest
  when I drank a pig’s blood.

Oh, yes, you are lovely,
but revenge
does not suit you.
There are faces to which
a little cruelty
adds magnificence—but yours
is not one of them.

So why the shoes?
Are you bitter at me
for your long sleep—the sleep
which brought your prince to you?
Do you blame me for my cruelty?
I tell you, beautiful one,
you make yourself a fool
by following in your mother’s footsteps.

But watch me dance, my darling.
If you must learn from me,
learn this: the reaping
of pain for poison
and fire for lies.
One day you too, my wicked
wicked daughter,
may need to trace these steps.

Megan Arkenberg is a student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her poetry has appeared in or been accepted for the Lorelei Signal, Labyrinth Inhabitant, Illumen, and Dreams & Nightmares. She procrastinates by editing the small fantasy e-zine Mirror Dance (http://mirrordancefantasy.blogspot.com). She says:

“The iron shoes at the end of the Snow White story never seemed like a protagonist’s brainchild to me. That was my first hint that there might be more than one villainess in that fairy tale.”

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