The Plainest Ring
He builds her houses in the trees
so she can sleep
When she wakes, he brings her milk and bread
They sit on the branches together,
watching the sky change colors
One day, he asks her
for the plainest ring she can find
She says she doesn’t know where to go.
His feathers ruffle under his shirt
he has given her key after key
so still she sits
like a heavy branch across his chest
he tells her he can give no more
She moves so slow
her feet are not used to the ground
or the thick air of the afternoon.
He’s almost given up
in two days time
when he sees her
and the dull glint of tin
on her left ring finger.
Never Wonder Land
Listen. Just listen –
It is 1932.
She is 80. He is 28.
She fell down a rabbit hole once,
only to emerge a woman
with a dusty book filled with drawings
of her underground adventures
Now she’s sold it, to pay for her house
for who needs such nonsense
– the caterpillar, the smiling cat
that sunny day boat, all those riddles –
they are no good when you need a house.
She greets the people who have gathered
with a smile, not a curtsy.
She never wears blue anymore,
nor does she think of the man
who made her into a myth
He didn’t love her like they think
It was her older sister, her braids undone at picnics
her trailing skirts
The crowd of people is thinning
like her hair
and that is when she greets him,
The Boy Who Could Not Grow Up
and yet he has
Tall and dark,
his eyes have the same coloring as hers
that icy gray gaze
Immortality drains the colors
with its whispers and questions.
It is hard to sleep at night
when every child is falling asleep to your stories.
They have tea, and talk for awhile
He tells her he couldn’t find the second star
on the right even if he tried.
She says if she had known,
she would have never asked for more stories
“We were just children after all.
All children grow up.
Who knew we’d be punished?”
They sit in silence
She is two years from going underground forever,
buried in a garden in Lyndhurst
He is 35 years from Sloane Square
where a certain burst of light
will flutter by his ear and tell him
to jump in front of a train
because he can fly.
They do not know their ends
so they part with gentle waves,
shaking off the dead leaves
floating from the trees
like the ghosts they cannot shake.
I leave your curls
as an offering to the birds
for their summer nests
I kiss your ears, whispering hellos
to forgotten parts of you
You told me you had planned for me
to cut the ring from your hair,
a glittering shard of purple
So I let you be my Rapunzel
fingertips touching silver
and spun gold
A nervous laugh and a few thousand snips and you’re just a boy
I’ve always loved, one that’s been hiding
in shirt pockets or purses
Rachel Cathleen Stewart holds a B.A. in English: Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her poems have appeared in Marias at Sampaguitas, Citrine Zine, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Soft Cartel, Spill Yr Guts, TigerShark, Sequoya Review, Mannequin Envy, Poems Niederngasse, Unlikely Stories, and Slow Trains Literary Journal. Her non-fiction prose has appeared in XOJane.