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Apples

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Poison drips down her throat.

 

The apple is crisp, juicy,       

            just a tiny bit sour,

firm in her hand,

            such a brilliant red.

 

Too late, she recognizes those

            cold, cold eyes.

She collapses, the cruel laughter

            loud in her ears.

The apple still smells delicious

            as it rolls from her fingers.

 

She dreams—

            dark hair and crimson drops

                                    on virgin snow

            a wish granted

                                     and a life taken for the cost

 

She dreams—

            Silent

            Stagnant

                        —trapped in glass,

                               no dancing, no music,

                               no joy

                        pinned like a butterfly in her stepmother’s web

 

She wakes, jolted from dreaming,

falls onto dirt and roots.

She breathes deeply;

the cool air soothes her still-burning throat.

 

“My love!” she hears and looks up.

His eyes are colder than his voice is warm.

She gazes at him, his handsome face, his luxurious clothes

            and feels poison

                                    drip

                                        down

                                                  her

                                                      throat.

 

A deep breath fills her lungs.

She gathers her feet beneath her,

glancing at the men around what

must be a prince, surrounding her, and again

he proclaims, “My love!”

 

                         Love, she thinks.  Love?

                                    —Am I dreaming still?

 

She rises, noticing that the

dress swirling around her ankles

is not the

ragged gown

she wore when she

bit into the apple.

 

                        (How long did she sleep?)

 

The prince holds out a hand,

smooth and pale, fingers long and slim.

 

She fled one cage,

          was caught in another,

                   and will not be trapped in a third.

 

She smells apples on the air.

Cold eyes pin her in place;

the prince’s men murmur, stepping closer.

The prince bares his teeth in a sharp smile.

 

She takes a deep breath,

                                        releases it slow.

 

“I thank you, my lord,”

           she says gracefully,

                                 softly,

“for waking me.”

 

And she runs.

            She knows not how long she slept

            but these trees she knows.

 

The men follow, shouting—

 

She darts into the woods,

            freed by poison,

                        the only kind thing her father’s wife has ever done.

 

She dreams of poison d

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                                         i

                                            p

                                               p

                                            i

                                        n

                                     g

 

                                d

                             o

                         w

                      n

                        her throat

                                     and wakes

ravenous.