In the End, We Are All Daughters

Sara Moore Wagner

In the story, the mother loves                                       only the ugly sister,

           so we know the ugly sister must be bad, and the one

who is unloved:                                      a shimmer on the face is a shimmer

            in the soul, and God looks kindly on clean beauty,

a still white landscape,                               on her.

                          The pretty sister must find a real mother,

beneath the water, a Mother Frost, long toothed and ageless,

to love her.                                                       In this story, you will

want to be the pretty sister,            only daughter.

            Not the one who is ugly and lazy as a fern,

For beauty, you prick you own fingers:

                           let red into every stitch.

Walk yourself back home,                           find a new home, all gold,

golden hair, golden child.            Avoid your little pitch one, sticky girl

            who gets too tired to work, lays down in the grass,

            does not take the bread out                        so it burns, does not shake

the apples from the tree.                                     Let her tend your bed,

            punch it down so hard the feathers cover all that tar,

your face:                                                Be made avian, skinny

            wrists: carpus. This is how to be the beauty you imagined

when your mother first shuttered you into the world. How you’ll remember

                        you were made from her,

stone from the land, snow            from the sleepy sky.


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