In short, everything succeeded so well that the youngest daughter began to think that the man’s
beard was not so very blue after all, and that he was a mighty civil gentleman.
– Charles Perault, Bluebeard.
As you asked me not to open the door
I shouldn’t have –
but what are shoulds? Should I have touched
your face that first night? Overcome
with curiosity, my fear was your blue beard
between my legs –
a nightmare I couldn’t shake,
and now must receive, the feather of it,
each hair’s nightly collapse against my own
When you left, I went to your swan’s coop,
snapped every slender neck
in the lot. Then the other fowl, those bewildered
chicks puffing and pecking aimlessly at their own
scatter never looked up.
How angry I was, to have a key I couldn’t use.
I cut my locks so you would have nothing to take
hold of, loosed then lifted each curl
with your gold scissors. How the high marks the low.
I explored every room save that one –
moving from treasure to treasure naked as the night,
sought you out object to object, lair by lair,
sat on every divan, scratched my head
against every pillow.
So after months without, I gave way,
pulled the key from my small purse and found them there,
all of them, like birds brined and preserved on drying hooks,
their black cloaks so stiff against the brick,
I did not scream. I thought – stupid starlings –
A cool salt draft kept the blood-soaked floor
as sand might, so I did not slip,
From the window I considered the fall, but
I, was so pleased to be alive, to realize I now had you,
if only briefly, all to myself. Sweet-blade,
so what the truncated future? It is the licks I know
are coming that will buckle and betray me.
BY VIEVEE FRANCIS
Vievee Francis is the author of two poetry collections, Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University, 2006) and Horse in the Dark (Northwestern Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in various journals and anthologies including, Best American Poetry 2010 among others. Work is forthcoming in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. She was the recipient of a 2009 Rona Jaffe Award and a 2010 Kresge Artist Fellowship. A Cave Canem Fellow, she is currently an Associate Editor for Callaloo.