Once Upon a Dream

Abigail Mitchell


in which I am wearing a ballgown made of the feathers
of a bird, shot down
over Hampshire;
glass shoes blown by a crone with withered hands
and thirty years of unpaid taxes.
The Märchenkönig parades me
through Neuschwannstein. Odette
breaks her neck
craning it to watch me, turns black swan
in taffeta and jeans.

In which I am searching for you behind a curtain
of stars but there is too much
darkness; too much of the garden
of thorns all around, of the places where I am blind
as I reach out to you,
eyes pecked useless by vultures
and the brambles both.

In which
I am pinching myself and I am
not awake. The swan king wishes
to swallow me alive and so the crone grants it true—
and so I wait for him to gorge himself on me
harder— harder— oh
if only I could prick my finger again, bleed
myself to wakefulness. But he walks and he talks
and he is very convincing. The staircases part,
the revelers bring fancy wine—and so
for a moment I might love him, might sweep
the dusty ballroom with my skirt as we dance under
plastic chandeliers. Dawning beauty: pink eyes, blue veins,
my trembling limbs in Odile’s pas de deux. He handles
me like a bird with mangled wings, the
wine in his stomach, my divinity devoured. You
should be here any minute, he says, that’s the payoff:
you’ll sweep in to rescue me, the violins swelling,
loving me—you should love me! But

then I am ripped away by the heaving of
my own chest, the suffocating night,
the moon streaming onto my sweat-damp hair.
then I am awake in my twin sized bed.
the kiss still unclaimed in the corner of my mouth.



Abigail Mitchell is a London-based writer and a PhD candidate at the University of Southampton (UK) working on queer readings of the British witch trials. She also holds an MA Hons. (Cantab) from the University of Cambridge and an MPW from USC. She can be found on Twitter at @_abbimitchell or at abbimitchell.co.uk.