Iowa Writes

MERIDITH BRAND
from The Twelve Dancing Princesses & Other Bedtime Tales


Prologue

Here are the red shoes that dance her to death.
This one bears fierce iron slippers like flames.
And the sea-sprung—well, she earns a step
of ten thousand knives that she can't ever blame.
Cut through the tongue. Peck out the eyes.
Spill from her lips the vilest vipers and toads.
Set her down in the desert till it changes her beauty.
Lock her up. Make her sleep. Change her name.

VII. Appetite

I crossed the line.
I realize now what I did
was unforgivable.
I understand
there must be some control
and that's why he came in
swinging the axhead.
That's why he's the hero.

Prologue

Here are the red shoes that dance her to death.
This one bears fierce iron slippers like flames.
And the sea-sprung—well, she earns a step
of ten thousand knives that she can't ever blame.
Cut through the tongue. Peck out the eyes.
Spill from her lips the vilest vipers and toads.
Set her down in the desert till it changes her beauty.
Lock her up. Make her sleep. Change her name.

VII. Appetite

I crossed the line.
I realize now what I did
was unforgivable.
I understand
there must be some control
and that's why he came in
swinging the axhead.
That's why he's the hero.

But what about me
and the girl—that adorable
redhead? The minute I saw her
I envied her
song, her cap, her concern
for her grandmother.
She stirred up a hunger
I'd never known before.

It was crazy—they'll tell you
I left my right
mind. I followed along
on the trail, trying to win
even a smile. She'd have nothing
of me, I've been warned
about those such as you!
Such as me? My stomach
turned over. I went to extremes.

It's unfortunate he saw what he did
when he found us. On reflection,
I see that my instincts
were off. I'll admit
to that charge, but I'm still not
sure which of my appetites
brought the ax down:
displaying myself as a woman
or doing it for love
of a girl.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


MERIDITH BRAND

Meridith Brand lives and works in Iowa City.

This page was first displayed
on June 22, 2006

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