My Daughters Dated Bluebeard by Claire Smith


In the entrails
of his grand house,
I reached the room
below the basement
at the bottom
of a dizzying staircase.

A room where sweat hung,
mixed with thick sheets
of mold and decay spreading
their way across the air.

A locked room 
where my twelve, precious
daughters were put to bed…

Twelve pairs of ribbons
wrapped round
twelve rusted nails,
attached to twelve pairs
of ballet slippers. 

Bloodied box-toes
from my twelve’s
delicate dancing feet.
Their frantic, hysterical,
frenzied attempts to escape.

My beautiful girls,
each innocent, the blue
bearded gentleman had courted,
with gleaming silver boxes –

inside, a gift, wrapped
in ivory tissue paper –
a pair of pastel pink
Pointe shoes given
to each of my twelve, dead, darlings . . .

Claire Smith collects books. It is a habit fueled by the many literature courses she’s taken from school years onwards. She asks for books for every special occasion – birthdays, Eastertime, Christmas, anniversaries – any excuse. Her internet wish-lists of books remain private as she is beginning to feel a little embarrassed about the growing number of bookcases and the piles of books that are mounting ever larger through the terraced house, which is home. Even her beloved Tonkinese cat feels unloved and complains bitterly by pushing books off the shelves… It feels only right that Claire should aspire to write.  

Published 5/6/21


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