Rose Red, on Sibling Rivalry

by Susan Slaviero


Don't look at her;
I'm the wilder sister.
I pass time with stags
& falcons, keep midnights
in the deepest patch of forest.
I sleep in mossy beds
while she spins
& weaves beside the hearth.
Changelings prick my feet
with thistles to wake me.
They suspect I am kindred --
fey-hearted & ephemeral
as the waning moon.


At home, it's always
bolt the door & boil the kettle.
Here, there are untamed berries
for breakfast, bright as carnelians
among my white, white teeth.
Tea, brewed on smoldering branches
that tastes of wild ginger
and pennyroyal.


Why does the black bear favor her?
She's all milk and apron-starch.
I'll eat a fish alive,
still squirming
on the bloody hook.


I brew a witch's tonic
to mute her indigo eyes:
the heart of a doe, the beard
of an imp. A pinch of salt.
Go to sleep, pale sister.
I'm red
as a wicked apple,
as a whore's shoe.

Susan Slaviero is the author of two poetry chapbooks: An Introduction to the Archetypes (Shadowbox Press, 2008) and Apocrypha (Dancing Girl Press, 2009). Recent work can be found in Melusine, Or Woman in the 21st Century, Fickle Muses, Dante's Heart, Mythic Delirium, Eclectica and the Best of the Net Anthology 2008. She designs and co-edits the online literary journal blossombones. The word "cherry" does not immediately make her think of poems, but rather of ceramic pie cozies.

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