my antique beauty, my china doll,
i remember your snaggle-toothed smile,
your gently crooked nose to match.
my wayward, moorish sweetheart,
always, you said, or at least,
until death do him part.
yet still, if he is safe and well
i still cannot help but wonder,
if you could set this swallow loose from your ribcage,
and let us reside once more in our heart,
once more, the way He intended.
i’ve seen the photographs,
sent in dog-eared envelopes, careless.
when did you become so tightly wound,
nothing like the cloth angel I remember
(your dresses flowing in between your legs,
as you ran up the hills before me).
if only you’d let me build you again,
from scratch, my whittling knife tracing
gently, etching the skin that was once mine.
if only you’d pry the paintbrush from his hands,
please, just place it back into my rightful palms.
for i could paint colour back on your cheeks,
bring what he lost in you back to life
for man always cracks and breaks the rosy flesh,
when he decides you are a wife.
for now i shall keep you in a glass cabinet in my head,
instead of – for the last twenty years – a casket by my bed.
safe, warm, admired, just for me to see
nothing like the princess locked in this tower,
that he so longs you to be.
but, please, please, write back.
tell me what it would take
for me to say, for me to do,
for you to open those glass eyes again and see
that perhaps this rosenkavalier
that you’ve always longed for, might just be a she?