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Snow White's Complaint

Snow White's Complaint
by Joyce Lautens O’Brien


When I ate the poison apple,
what a relief. Finally, I thought,
a good night's sleep.

But no, it's the same sneezing,
snoring and wheezing all night long.
And even though they put me
in a long glass thing to keep me better,
it doesn't block the noise one bit.
I still hear chitterchatter hour after hour.
And just when I think they've gone,
maybe, this is it, maybe now
I can drift to sleep, no, they're back.

Shining bright lights, fogging up the glass,
jumping up and down, twitchy
and alarmed, shrieking her name
and muttering about a mirror
until I want to scream.
Look, there's no love lost between us,
but really, for a stepmother she's not bad.
Lost her looks, dyes her hair,
not the stunner she believes. Maybe once,
but trust me, no more.

No, it's my father I blame.
It's time now, he said. Learn a trade.
And the next thing I know I'm apprenticed
to these short, noisy bearded men.
Seven all together, believe it or not.
Fetch this, carry that. No wonder
I'm exhausted, sinking under major stress.
All of them clamoring, yapping different
demands. Men! I can do without,
from my father down to these seven,
I don't know what to call them,
dwarves, I'd say, if it was done these days.

And now they're talking about
bringing someone in, to wake me up,
bring me back to life. I say just shut up
and let me sleep. I need a rest,
a little vacation.

And finally, at last I start to slumber,
escape almost to dream, but it’s no use,
there's another racket, blare of trumpets,
flare of drums. And here he comes,
a man on a mission, no doubt looking for
cook, bottle washer, wife and all.

Not much to look at, no prince for sure,
but there's one thing in his favor at least.
He's tall.

* * *

Joyce Lautens O'Brien is a Canadian who used to live in New York and now lives in Connecticut. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Yemassee, Connecticut River Review, Riverbabble, Pure Slush, Quantum Poetry, Halfway Down the Stairs, Foundling Review, Metazen, and other places.

What do you think is the attraction of the fantasy genre?

I've loved fantasy ever since I learned to read. My first book of my very own was Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a copy I still have. And at the library I practically wore out all the various Andrew Lang fairy tale collections, red, grey, yellow, violet, green and all the rest. And I loved the Oz books, which were the high points of Christmas and birthdays. Strangely, I haven't written much fantasy, so I'm very pleased that Snow White and her problems just came to me one day.


Anonymous said...

What a GREAT poem! I love it! The author definitely has a gift.