Do you swear this will never happen again, for the spell you cast
has unmade me. Waiting and waiting for the nausea of betrayal to subside.
No one remembers my years of faithful daughterhood. I have
a cut that’s constantly bleeding from the crook of my elbow.
I wear a red hoodie but the color doesn’t suit me.
Once I was the heir and now I am a commoner
in the town square all day selling oracles
wrapped in the plain news. No one reads them,
they use them for lamp wicks instead. In those households
the cows give sour milk and mice devour the seed corn.
At night I sleep under the million perfect diamonds
on your fingers. I propitiate my dead father but there is
no answer. You have turned me into a frogling,
a briar, a comb with missing teeth, a mistral.
Eventually I learn the ways of wind and scour the countryside,
harrowing rabbits. I collect smooth stones and swallow them
to weigh down my pale feet. I grow white roots
and long fingers, I make a new house out of cirrus
and small brown birds. I turn up at the edges of towns and sometimes
the villagers mistake me for a girl again, in my deerskin coat
and cattail stockings. The way I still carry the ring
from my father’s hand is by artifice and guile.
To be worth rubies, the falling blood would have to be made
stone again. You called me daughter when it suited you.
But we all know who lives in the castle now.
Jeanne Obbard received her bachelor’s degree in feminist and gender studies from Bryn Mawr College, and works in clinical trial management. A 2001 Leeway Seedling Award recipient, her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, IthacaLit, and The Moth. She can be found on the web at jeanneobbard.com.
Artwork: Caryn Drexl, Little Red Wolf
Model: Tatiana Paris