Oct/Nov 2011 Poetry

Two Poems

by Michaela Gabriel

Mosaic artwork by Laura Robbins

Mosaic artwork by Laura Robbins

Cadmium (Cd)

Rapunzel Has Her Hair Cut

Yes, it's me again. The moon's full and in Aries.
Slow growth is still what I want. My husband
understands. Oh it would be beyond beautiful:
spectacular! But—No, I can't say who I take after.

I never knew my parents. The old woman said
Mother choked on a leaf of rampion. Rapunzel.
Father's heart broke; he couldn't bear
my scrunched-up face, my name.

I doubt it's true. Why lock me up in a tower
when there isn't any danger of recognition
over a pile of apples, my eyes suddenly mirrored
in the face of a stranger on the road into town?

For years I sat there, anchored to the floor
by the weight of my own hair. My jailer kept me
alive. I was deaf to the birds, blind to the sun
till that man found me: my love, my ticket out.

They call me crazy for knocking the castle down,
tearing stone from stone with my own hands.
But the walls kept edging closer. Each night
my ghostly walks took me nearer to the turrets.

The new house is all rectangles and squares,
low ceilings. There's no need for ladders.
I still dream of them though, dangling from
windows, feet slipping on creaking rungs.

I recoil at the sight of ropes. I shun the well,
turn from the pail's plunge into the dark.
My fingers will never spin wool, wind up
clotheslines, braid a daughter's hair.

And you wonder why I come here every month,
why we hurry through shampooing, rinsing,
pleasantries, why I don't relax until I hear
the cold sharp snap of scissors?


Rhenium (Re)


This was never meant to be a night for killing
dragons, and I do not believe in gold.

I never saw pale faces lurking in the river,
forever a breath away from surfacing.

Seaman's yarn, I said, even when men didn't
return, or came back shadows of themselves.

But tonight there is a whispering in the air,
and it is not the wind. Tonight I hear—

though my ears have no part in this. I hear,
and my body listens to murmuring rock,

to singsong from the depths, lilting from
unseen lips. The world shivers, and I know

it is you: daughter of the Rhine, my fishwife,
sweet anchor. The sky blinks a warning.

But what is the cold moon, what are the stars
compared to your voice? They can only guide,

while you lure, tempt, beckon. Your laughter
adds hundredweights to the stones in my pockets,

promises a weightless dance in your scaly arms.
Black water ripples, the veil I will draw back.

Tell me, beloved, that you are already braiding
a wreath of silvery hair for our wedding bed.


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