Poem of the Week
When beautiful Snow White bit and swooned
on the dwarfs’ cottage stoop, pale bosom heaving,
and a chuckling crone scooted off with her basket
of ruby apples, I shrieked, kicking theater seats.
No hushing would stop me, so I was dragged across
strangers’ knees, up a dark, inclined aisle, over
the lobby’s red carpet, past ushers sharing smirks
with a candy case lady, out onto the sidewalk
which was just there on Clay Avenue in Jeannette,
Pennsylvania. The glassworks was still going
and Gillespie’s still sent receipts in pneumatic tubes
when you bought a slip or a new pair of shoes. Only then
I stopped screaming and grasped my shuddering breath,
blinking at parking meters, grateful it was still light
outside that story, which was worse than disobedience
or the snake I saw slithering beyond the frame
of my Bible story page. I’d studied Adam’s face
and Eve, who tempted him, hair hiding her breasts
as they walked in that exotic garden, already bent
over with guilt, palm fronds at their waists.
Mom coaxed me back to the lobby, and I hovered
in buttery light by the popcorn machine. The prince
returns! She comes back to life! Go in and see!
She crooned with the ushers, but I refused. Even when
they pushed me toward a crack in the dark double doors
and I glimpsed a prince and lavish wedding dress,
I could not believe she was alive and happy ever after.
I was a heretic too insulted by the cross
to accept resurrection. I knew that marriage
is just a trick cooked up by the grownups
to keep me from screaming my head off.
Thanks to Prof. Beth Martin Birky for suggesting this poem.