MEDUSA
by Andre DeCuir

When My Father Calls

When my father calls, we talk of birds,
how the blue jays cannonball,
their  large bodies splashing
water out of his birdbaths:
old rusty pans found in dumps
now resting on boards
in the green shade of a mimosa tree.

There is a little talk of  aches and pains,
but nothing about the wheezing  I hear
between his sentences.

Just news about cardinals, brown thrashers, and floating hummingbirds,
rabbits grazing on tall, uncut grass,
sometimes even appearing at the backdoor,
a shape that could be a coyote
at the far end of  a soy bean field,
the figs he plans to pick and preserve and give away.

Father, in your years alone,
you have created in our backyard
a secret chamber of wonder and life,
your refuge, your sustenance, your legacy.

Medusa

Red eye in dark water
gazing upon shapes of
myth-like creatures,
monsters, they say,
some with parts like
tresses of long hair
writhing in currents.

A jellyfish bobs
like a silken moon,
swirling light
like in that Van Gogh painting
of the night sky.

A curious shape
encircles the glowing prize.
And then a burst like a star,
arms and tentacles
radiate from the orb
then collapse, disappear
into blackness.

A centuries-old curse has been broken,
your gaze no longer feared,
now privy to this:
secret, strange, watery life.

Cinderella

The white bird in the hazel tree remembers:

Long ago, you came to us,
white lines on your face,
hot tears scouring through dirt  and ash.

Your dress, a shapeless rag,
not beautiful
like grey morning fog.

And your shoes of wood  so heavy
they could crush small violets
back into the dark earth.

Through your sobs,
we heard something about a ball,
a fancy party.

So, through the whispering leaves,  just like that,
we gave you a dress of gold
that flashed  like finches’ wings in the sun.

And slippers  to match that did the trick.

Now, when her daughters want party dresses
she orders online
and gets them the next day.

Even though we can get them faster.

I guess she still isn’t over
what happened at the wedding.
When the step-sisters arrived,
we flew from her shoulders
and pecked out their eyes.

Snow White

Long ago,
Snow White’s mother
looked through the window,
at the snow in the gray sky
not yet knowing of things to come,
like her own death
the next winter
one more of ice than snow
or the woman who would sit
not at this window but at a mirror,
its unfathomable depths drawing her
to her own darkness,
or a rustic cottage
in the blue shadows
of  ancient fir trees,
or deadly wares,
an apple of irresistible red
finally being the one,
or a coffin of gold and glass
resting on a summer hill.
No, none of this she saw.
Just a bullfinch
the color of flame
landing in the white quietness.

Briar Rose
(on the paintings by Edward Burne- Jones)

Remember,
when the princess
fell asleep for a hundred years,
she wasn’t the only one.

The brave knights in the wood
nestle together,
long legs stretched in the grass,
helmets off, hair streaming,
a head resting
on an armored chest,
stoic faces now relaxed
in something like desire.

 The royal court,
bodies in silken
rose, purple, and green
lounge at the king’s feet,
the last song of the youthful bard
stirring dreams
of lovers lost
and regained.

The princess alone on her couch,
no warmth of a slender arm
touches her in her sleep.
She will have her prince though,
who searches through the wooded  maze
and  perfumed air
and will draw back a curtain
the color of the sea,

his kiss,
his embrace.

And all will wake
and stare
and feel a bit colder
as they  fall away
like dreams
and like thorny branches
with sweet blossoms.

About the Author:

Andre DeCuir teaches at Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio. His work has appeared in publications such as Heron Tree, Mystery Tribune, Gay Flash Fiction, Dialogual, and The Rose and Thorn Journal.

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