Imagine Snow White with her colors mixed up:
eyes black as coal and lips white as snow,
hair red as the rose that blooms in the glass,
that once filled her throat: the color of stop.
Her bracelets are scars, her necklace a rope
of clear plastic beads that look just like tears.
Seventeen years but her body’s fresh snow
marked by deep tracks, by the burn of the rope
she pulls to bring the shy vein singing up
like a river from the arm, to fill the glass
with its red plume, via the needle that tears
at the flesh. She has no power to stop
using, or being used. They bind her with rope
and sit there like kings, commanding her tears,
music to them as they move mounts of snow
through trumpeted notes. They beat her up
and laugh, laugh again, when she begs them to stop.
And after their play, her face in the glass:
eyes black as kohl from the swift-flowing tears
that only the needle’s puncture can stop.
with sharp steel she’ll prick the thin vein like rope
and swoon into a blank of television snow,
the static that storms behind the glass
at transmission’s end. Turn the volume up:
silence. How quickly the needle can stop
all sounds, as if she’s been laid under glass;
can, with its cold point, stem the hot tears
and, with the same touch, slice the slick rope
that binds body and mind. Strings of patched up
memories, thought threads, buried beneath a snow
drift. The grim reaper’s ticking hour glass
momentarily mute. She’d never wake up
if choice was hers; if she could bring full stop
to this mortal world of blood, sweat and tears
and remain a princess asleep in the snow,
pulled to her casket by the tight rubber rope.
A fairy-tale fuck-up, she tells snow
white lies sometimes to the glass: that she’ll stop,
soon. A rope that she clings to; that easily tears.
*(Previously published in Parthian anthology Ten of the Best, and Nonbinary Review in the USA)
Mab Jones is “a unique talent” (The Times) who is known mostly for her satirical verse, which she has performed all over the UK, in the US, France, Ireland, and Japan, and on BBC Radio 4. She is also resident poet in the National Botanic Garden of Wales, and a writer of plays and prose. www.mabjones.com