Witch To Rapunzel's Mother
Girl, you remember: your sticky fingers
had to have me. You were like a pearl
boiling and boiling in bedsheets,
bedsick, sending your husband to my garden—
you couldn't live without the vines
I snapped and pruned—my Lamb's Tongue
and Lobelia. My Lady Bleeding and Lustwort.
I caught that boy's hands at the roots
and he sold you out for Sage.
Yours wasn't the first first-born I fleeced.
I'm a daughter-stealer,
the one you pray to
when your life is dishware and laundry.
Your daughter is fine.
I planted her among Winter Crookneck
and Kale. I'll keep her well.
You? You can't have everything
because everything has a price. Mind
your rows of wet towels on the line,
dust lace under the bed.
Mind your husband—
that suited bag of rice.
Coney Island, 1879
The skin of the elephant and its trainer were not entirely
different: paper stitched with sharp threads;
wrinkled, metal gray.
The trainer tied the elephant to the wired floor
with what can't be named regret—
it was a feeling less naïve than that.
Then Edison, in a misbuttoned black vest,
accustomed now to crowds gathering for his inventions—
When first he lit the low-glow lights
directed voltage up those thick-trunk legs;
first, the front knees bent in mantis position,
then the wide ears fell forward
like a Chinese paper fan
opening to reveal a painting.