After Happily Ever After Wendy Taylor Carlisle

The Fairest

Below skin-deep in the steadiness of organs,
in the upright bones, where all the solid, perfect cells tick on,

the widowís heart, that little zip lock of gore, fills and empties,
regular as a metronome, only a wisp of memory stirs.

Nothing moves her but her chestnut hair, her own pale cheeks.
She hums; she ignores the darkness somewhere east

of the lace that disappears between her thighs, attends only to the mirror
and itís flattery, staying alert for signs of that other,

too-fragile face. Her husband sometimes complained
of loneliness and fear, as if she could cure him. For him, she puts on

ugly clothes that suggest loss. For her reflection, she wears
satin. She hardly thinks of the stepdaughter growing up next door.

At the wake, she claims to be stricken. But she canít transform
the fairy taleóevil step-ways, an autumn forest, first the woodsman,

then the disguise are caught in that same glass where she displays
an apple cheek, the satin skin, a flat black empty eye.

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October 2003 2River