A Pillow, Discarded / Amanda Crum
CONTENT WARNING: references to sexual harassment.
In a castle, darkened,
she keeps a close watch. Men would try to seduce her,
take her for their own. Her hair catches the light
just so, spun gold even in a room so dim
it attracts no moths.
Here she has grown under key and keep,
held tight by a curse through no fault
of her own, yet she has studied those who come and go
and understands the eyes of man better than they do.
She once boxed the ears of a boy delivering milk
to the kitchens when he slid a knowing smile her way.
Her eyes are wide
When she pricks her finger we are all with her,
the maids and cooks who have built her mighty. She thinks of
ripe tomatoes on the sill, an oven full of fruit simmering,
a fire on the verge of blaze. She slips to the floor under
that baleful curse, leaving the wheel spinning lazily in the damp,
and we have no time to mourn. Sleep spirits us away.
The prince cuts a strong figure across the lawn,
armed and armored. We dream of him, watch him dance
behind our eyelids as he slices through the enchantments
and battles flames and stone. What once was imposing
is now in decay, a crumbled fortress trembling with vines.
We are with her for the kiss. We stir uneasily in sleep,
denying it all. Our lips form silent “O” shapes, a warning
that he would ignore even if he could hear us. When she bites down,
pulling flesh and gristle from tender muscle tissue,
none of us can fathom whether it’s his scream of pain
or hers, born of rage,
that is the loudest. He will never know
that she would rather sleep a thousand years
than bear an unwanted touch; she will never know
why a pillow, discarded on a stone floor,
should bring her such cold and valuable fury.
Amanda Crum is a writer and artist whose work can be found in publications such as Eastern Iowa Review, Blue Moon Literary and Art Review, and Dark Eclipse, as well as in several anthologies. Her first chapbook of horror poetry, The Madness In Our Marrow, made the shortlist for a Bram Stoker Award nomination in 2015; her latest, Trailer Trash, will be published by Finishing Line Press in early 2019. She currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two children.