Gingerbread House Lit Mag

A Tale Not Told

Shahrayar is my husband & I will die tonight.
I am common, though beautiful & have done nothing
more than sleep in my skin & know myself as woman.

Father arranged our marriage. Beauty & modesty
would prevail, he said, for what man could murder
a fifteen-year-old girl? I would have liked to wed

father’s chef. He creates delicacies from honey &
rose with flourishes of crème & flower petals.
He made certain my bowls were filled—pistachios

& pomegranates & — I would redden my lips
with cherries then admire the line of my breasts
in the glass. I am obedient & married the man

father told me to marry. Too many have perished.
I am haunted. They come to me in sleep & whisper
Shahrayar is my husband & I have died tonight.

Their eternity— no children, no laughter, no sunsets
or windstorms. No stars shimmering a darkening sky.
No lavender scented pillows. No red earth scent

after a rain. So many voices. Shirin, Shiri, Shirin,
you will die tonight like crickets on the warmest
eve, insistent, persistent, comforting. Women

murdered in their wedding beds. Split like a seam,
blood ribbons. They tell me I am not clever & neither
were they. I wish I were clever. I wish I knew

how to keep myself alive— what were their dreams?
Do you know me? I am an artist. My dainty wrists
good for something—father sells my watercolors,

puts his name on them. I paint trees. Sycamores
that sleep. Willows that weep. I would like to sell
my paintings & live on my own. I would like to live.

You see how foolish I am? Foolish, beautiful girl.
Shahrayar is my husband & I will die tonight. Shiri,
Shirin, Shiri, you will die tonight. Soon, we dead,

numerous & shimmerous souls, wisps of light—
fireflies in flight whispering in the next bride’s ear
Shahrayar is my husband & I will die tonight.

Alicia Elkort 

Alicia Elkort’s poetry has been published in AGNI, Arsenic Lobster, Black Lawrence Press, Georgia Review, Heron Tree, The Hunger Journal, Jet Fuel Review, Menacing Hedge, Rogue Agent, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, as well as many others. Her poems have been nominated for the Orisons Anthology (2016), the Pushcart (2017), and A Best of the Net (2018). Alicia reads for Tinderbox Poetry Journal, mostly with a cup of strong black tea in hand.

Artwork: Brooke Shaden, Hidden: Concealed



This entry was published on September 30, 2019 at 12:07 am and is filed under 38 (September 2019), Archive, Poetry. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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