Beauty And The Beast

By Jaimes Alsop

“Beauty and the Beast” by Jaimes Alsop

1. The Beast

Knowing how you loved the birds

I fixed them to the trees

so they wouldn’t fly away.

So you would stay.

And you remained silent

and never questioned my bloody palms

or reproached me the birds

because they didn’t sing.

It couldn’t last, of course.

No new birds came and those crucified

were taken by small animals or simply

disappeared from the nails.

I was sure then that you would leave me.

Finally I confessed.

Trembling, I brought you the hammer

and showed my broken fingers.

Leaves and branches in my hair,

the diagrams of Autumn

on the sky.

And you smiled and said it didn’t matter

about the birds

and drank at my tears

like a rare and fragile wine

that they too would not be wasted.

2. Beauty

I came to you so carelessly

there were those who thought I had not been warned.

I could only point to the false lovers who carried marks

where you had pressed coins into their palms

and admit I was impatient for your scars.

The rumours followed us as easily

as if you murdered me every night;

hemlock in my evening wine,

a loosened bannister on the stair.

The dull villagers and daft princes

waited still and at distances

for grave news and relentless

until I could only point again

at their jealous eyes and whisper

I had discovered why you handled me

as though I were made of glass.

I know they want to know about our bodies.

Our virginity confuses them

and they are reduced to words and silences.

What shall we allow them to believe?

We are a thousand years old, no histories

and nothing to confess.

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