I Know How to Fall

I know how to fall
out of love in a flash;
without skinning my heart

or breaking
my hubris’ bone.

I make list after list
(five days prior to the arrival of now)
and for each item, I create “What ifs…”

What if my lips are cracked and bloodied,
and I can’t wake the princess with a kiss?

What if exhaustion makes me thoughtless,
and I break the crystal coffin
without seeing what lies within?

What if gut and backbone turn against me,
and I can’t take three steps
without crying eleven howls and one shriek?

She must be roused properly;
that coffin’s too valuable to lose.
If my nerve leaves me,
I’ll run into the woods
and reclaim it.

I know how to fall
out of love
with what’s expected:

I practice.

About the Image: the artwork is part of “a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty” story. I chose it because Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell took the traditionally expected “happily ever after”, and reshaped it into a tale in which a lot more characters can do some real living.

for NaPoWriMo with Magaly Guerrero 2015, Day 25 – Anticipating Mayhem: Write a poem that lets us glimpse into how you ready yourself before facing known troubles, and what you do to cope once mayhem has done its thing.

The Sleeper and the Spindle“…detail from The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell. Photograph: Chris Riddell/Bloomsbury”

Not Victoria

My knife was deep in his belly. His eyes were wide across from mine. I pressed my chest into his, twisted the blade, and his dying breath warmed my face.

I pulled the blade. It was slick with his blood; my hand was covered, too.

His body, eyes empty of thought and memory, leaned against The Crossroads Tree. The others had been swallowed by the trunk as soon as a blade had cut their life-cord.

You must give him to me, Victoria, the ancient tree whispered into my mind. If you don’t, you won’t know how to return to your family.

I stared at the blade in my hand. Blood can be so black. While everyone else was also killing strangers and neighbors, in hope of being the one whose life-cord would be lengthened by every life ended against the tree, I was sure I wanted to be the winner. “My name is not Victoria,” I said to The Crossroads Tree.

You fed me last—his life, his memories… and yours. The name is recompense. Every other life you take under your new name, Victoria, will feed my strength and keep you young. End him. Begin anew. Wish him bled. Wish him gone. Wish him mine, Victoria, and I’ll give you back your memories plus life everlasting.

“No,” I said, sheathing my knife in my boot and reaching for the man’s body. I dragged him away from the blood drenched tree, and placed him gently on the ground. “What we were fighting for, what I did to you… it was wrong.”

I put two leaves between his eyes and me; then piled more leaves, sticks and stones over his entire body. My knife lay flat on the makeshift tomb. “I won’t kill to live.”

The sun was warm. Cool breeze played on my skin. I was standing in from of a earth mound that was covered in green grass and tiny wildflowers. A tree, its thick trunk resembling people hugging each other, grew crooked by the side of a bright trail.

I didn’t know where I was, or who I was, but I wasn’t scared.

There were a large blackened knife and a polished staff atop the mound. I grabbed the latter and walked passed the twisted tree towards a new path.

for Magpie Tales
Crooked Tree