Sleeping, I Was Beauty

by Sandi Leibowitz

The prince's eyes devour me,
in damask shawls and dancing shoes
or morning's rumpled flannel.
When my stocking tears,
he bends to buss fresh bud of ankle
flowering through the rip.

Between one bite
of saffroned pheasant and the next,
I try unsnarling the skein of words
one hundred years of sleep have knotted up.
But my husband's lips twist in distaste.
He squints each time I speak,
trying to imagine her back,
that sleeping girl he loves,
the mute.

I woke to his face dark over me,
his weight stopping my breath,
his cloak pressing thorns into my thighs,
his tongue already busy in my mouth,
and all the world rejoicing
at true love's admittance.

My throat grows dustier
than my father's cobwebbed kingdom.
Silence burns like the bonfire of wheels.
All the while, my mind spins dreams
of roses.

Sandi Leibowitz was bewitched by beauty at an early age. Perhaps it was the gift of a beaded and embroidered peacock pin along with Andrew Lang's Green Fairy Book that sealed the spell. She writes fiction and poetry, mostly fantasy based on myths and fairy-tales, for adults and children. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Apex, Mythic Delirium, Jabberwocky, Niteblade, the Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Aoife's Kiss, New York Quarterly and Cricket. She sings classical and folk music with Cerddorion and New York Revels, and plays recorders, medieval harp and even more obsolete instruments with the early music trio Choraulos. Ms. Leibowitz is a native New Yorker who shares her eyrie with some ravens, two ghost-dogs and the occasional dragon.

Her favorite fruits are the apples that grow in the Garden of the Hesperides. However, like Tess, she can always be tempted by fresh strawberries.

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