Author: Susan Slaviero



He finds it tiresome, all this flesh—
this repetitious strangling
and mixing of solvents
to remove bloodstains
from glass keys,
hens’ eggs. So, he weds
a robot, a burlesque,
a pantomime bride.
He winds the spring
in her back, torques
her tinheart, twisting.
A wife should be all gears
and timing, the proper measure
of mechanical stress.
She is programmed
to prepare curries
on Sunday, to ignore the dead
bodies along the walls.
On her wedding day,
a porcelain rose
is affixed to her hair
with magnets.



The corpse-closet
is no longer nailed shut.
She serves blackberry pies
on golden plates,
this perfect itch, unflappable
bitch, with her fearless
legs that never quiver, her prayerless
mechanical lips.
She dusts the tapestries
three times a week,
like watchwork.
He walks her through his gallery
of girl-parts:
in a silver box,
a beringed hand—
rubies and fire-opals gleaming
in candlelight, the dark
and clotted wrist.
A jar of incurious
eyes, hazels and blues,
each one a jewel
for his new bride.
She might wear them
in her sockets, this unimpressed
He takes a saber
to her joints, unthreads
his machine
in a fit
of bloody boredom.



Servants scrub her parts
with soap and sand,
buff her
limbs to a high shine.
Perhaps a harp
in her chest, he says,
or a music box between her winding
hips? She should be better equipped
for staircases. 
She should taste like honey.
He reattaches her head
with pipe-dope,
props her up
in front of the looking glass,
surrounded by ashes
and kindling.
This time, he gives her skin. 
This time, he programs her
to be afraid of fire.

Read Slaviero’s blog.

Sometimes, the evil fairy wears a lab coat.
She pricks your finger with an infected needle,

suspends your head in a thermos flask.
You might be trapped in a liquid nitrogen

enchantment for a hundred years, surrounded
by cracked glass and jagged ice crystals,

waiting for the prince to defrost you,
to kiss the stump of your pretty neck.

Read Slaviero’s blog.