The Frog Prince
I don't remember having a golden ball
much less dropping it in a gray cesspool,
making a naive promise, his pale legs diving in.
So when that slimy thing sat before my father
and claimed that the toy was like the sun
disappearing behind a shroud of black clouds,
I couldn't help but roll my eyes.
But my father would rather believe
some stranger who just pulled himself
out of the primordial ooze than his own daughter.
It doesn't matter that I can't recall
even meeting the amphibian; promises
must be kept, on this point my father is clear.
I shouldn't judge someone by their class or genus.
I let the fiend sit on my plate,
dripping in my peas; I said nothing
when I saw him devour a moth
that lay skittering and blind.
But I drew the line at letting it sleep
on my pillow—that pale, squat tumor—
watching my breath as I dreamed.
When it said Baby, why don't you come over
and give me a kiss , I smiled, held out my palm,
and, as soon as I felt that cold wet weight,
I smashed it against the wall.
East of the Sun
Mother should've told me
light a lamp ,
warned me about the devil
who visited each night.
(The mattress sank
beneath his weight,
blankets drawn back,
a hand slid down
to close my eyes;
night a bag
pulled over my head.
for everyone, to claim
there’s no visitor.
Just a nightmare pressed
against my chest.
It’s easier to believe
my own mind
like father’s study
(flip the switch
and no lights come on
as the radio
than to believe
my whole family would choose
not to see.
But one night the moon
rose in the North,
topped the hills,
then loped down and melted
into four legs,
a tooth-filled head—
a great white bear.
Its hollow hairs
—like glass bulbs—
held the sun and lit
the long arctic night. My scars
Not the child
of my subconscious.
My parents claimed
the bear was a ravenous god
who wanted to tear us
Light creates shadows ,
father said, killing
a candle’s flame,
hiding the fingerprints, covering
the crime scene—