Deep in the skin and among sisters
scars are stones tossed back
and forth like petals tracked
on the path to misunderstandings.
You probably don’t know
the truth about us. She wasn’t
really our sister but we
treated her like one.
You’ve heard we put toads
in her pockets, slipped salt into her cereal,
and pulled her hair whenever we felt like it.
What makes you think this is true?
We loved her like our own blood.
Gave her first choice of gilt chains
and pearls from her mother’s trinket
box. Served her first at suppertime.
We cherished even her name
ringing like a bell on our tongues.
We were happy with bread and tea
and the smile on our father’s face,
but she wanted roses and we’re the ones
remembered as thorns.
In the Cards
Call it a mirage
but the moon calls the shots.
The mirror, an accomplice,
reaches into a cup of faith.
I’m a fool for secrets
but don’t tell me the truth.
I’ll show you the pentacle of roots
and spread berries to retrieve dreams.
It’s what you see
when you want to believe,
looking for love in alternate places,
blind and likely to bleed on the sword of endings.
Towers transform into magic wands
and you’d like to twist your own fate,
hang onto the card lost in the shuffle,
an omen to hold over your head.
The Wolf at the Door
leaves love notes with roses,
bouquets of objections, secrets
skimmed from thorns
of picket fences.
An artificial Lothario in white wool
winks through the keyhole,
makes you almost believe
in the editorials of ravens.
The Emperor’s Dress
The emperor wants to wear a red dress —
A stiff bloodline of starch and pith
with pockets for her phone and keys,
a long straight lace to hide behind.
She wants matching shoes to stomp
and tramp, to play peekaboo
with her hand of cards, crack the curse,
and hold the world in her arms
like a basket of laundry.
Imagine nine kingdoms in a tree
of the world —
wilderness and heavens
in roots and branches —
underground pedigrees of common aspirations,
stems rendered as universes that pulse
into homelands — giants and ice,
fire and elves, dwarfs
and recollections of the dead.
Humanity is a visible thread
in the cloth of destiny —
the mystery of feline lives,
nine tribes, nights, daughters,
fistfuls of questions shuffled and spread
like confetti in a sky of answers.
Luck is a landmine on the path
to the holy grail of anticipation,
victim to shapes and states of foliage.
Deborah Purdy is the author of Mermaids in the Basement (dancing girl press) and Conjuring an Epiphany (Finishing Line Press). Her work has appeared in Cleaver Magazine, Gingerbread House, Mom Egg Review, Black Bough Poetry, and other publications.
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