The dragonfly stepmother lurks on the other side of the glass,
watching the forgotten daughter. Her twin sons cluster around her
like budding crystals with internal flaws, dangerous edges.
The girl would not let them touch her. After the mirror
screamed, she left in autumn, when the scrolled violences
of frost veil the sad leaves. In the second month of winter
she found the moonstone on the forest floor, glowing
like a phoenix feather under the drifted snow, and swallowed it
to keep it safe from harm. Now, when she tries to speak,
lavender butterflies flow from her mouth and float silently away
across the sighing, silvery summer. Miles from here, lifting
on warm air to the top of the white mountain, they hover
in a hydrangea cloud over the dry, pale branches. It is whispered
that when the dead tree flowers again the true prince will rise
from the sleep of sorcery to find his wandering soul.
All that day, she walks toward the horizon where the hill shines
like ice. At dusk she climbs the gleaming, glassy slope at last,
carrying the light inside her like secret delight. When they ask
her name, she answers with flickering fragments of evening sky.
As twilight looms, each lilac butterfly settles on a twig.
The sun falls below the distant sea and all the violet wings bloom
in unison: night inhales the vaporous scents of iris and wisteria.
In the palace, surrounded by flaming eyes in a room of black marble,
a young man awakens from a dream of something missing,
and looks out of the window to see the rest of his life
blossoming in purple glory on the mountain.
When they hold each other as I am holding you, lips to lips,
breathing the same breath, tongues fluttering like petal-soft wings,
the stone rises in her throat like a bubble of laughter.
The two wicked brothers climb the hill of salt forever,
clawing the crystal with red-hot talons, grinding a steady avalanche
streaming to the sea. When nothing is left they can go home
and climb into their mother’s lap to sleep.