Matt Bell

Every youngest martyr a flower, how foreshortened

the seasons of her blooming. Petals and pistil and

dust to dust. But in tales beautiful cannot stand

the loss of beauty. What then for the teller?

To halt progress, to arrest the chance

of rot. A thousand year sleep. Death

by poison apple in the age of her youth.

Better to be carried off and lost or placed

and displaced in a coffin of sheerest glass

than to wither even once, anywhere the scribe

might scry a story. To love a perfect face, a perfect age:

We measure grace by looks and by her pleasure

in the domestic. But every household chore

carries its cost in splinters. The body sags

toward the shape of its task, descends the precipice

of marriage and motherhood, where the story

dares go no further than happily ever after,

fairy tale for avert your eyes.

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