‘Noir’ by Katharyn Howd Machan

And if the prince is evil.
If his fingertips are dangerous

when he pries loose the golden slipper
from tar, from pitch, from wax.

Ochre waistcoat, mustard sleeves, thin
necktie in a saffron knot

below a bearded grin. If
every night he plucks black swans

and floats their feathers down the stream
that runs fast past his castle,

then chews their curved necks raw
to spit out their splintered bones,

laughing as he shouts the name
of the shining girl he’ll seek and find

to marry, then cut off her feet
so she’ll never dance again.

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