This one started out as a sestina, but it quickly became clear that I couldn’t finish it in time if I stuck to the form - so here’s a draft. I’m not sure I like this one, but hey, that’s part of the process.
Here’s what she never said: the apple
was an afterthought, her whole heart
yearning for some kind of escape, a door,
a ball of twine, a talking cat, a gesture
of love or silence, out of a life
she hardly recognized as her own.
For all their smiles, they owned her,
as surely as the apples hanging
from the low rafters, or the flat stone
before the door, swept three times a day
or else. She saw her future:
one bare room, whose door opened into
other rooms, low-ceilinged, windowless,
filled with broken rocking chairs
and the scent of rotting apples.
How could she not recognize
the scent of another world?
The peddler’s face, the white hands,
the apple, too, as red and deadly
as hope, as sin, as, oh, that old yarn,
temptation and rebellion. She knew
what she was doing, taking just one bite
and falling down, a wink and a grin
on her weathered face. She’s done,
for once, with the obedient gesture,
falling down on that flat stone before the door.
Let someone else sweep it clean,
and make the seven beds, and haul
steaming pots from fire to table,
and smile, besides. There’s always another
dumb bunny running from one cage
to another. She learned. They’ll learn, too,
that sometimes the only way out’s to keep
that apple deep in your throat, to blank
your eyes, to be still, to live inside
that glass coffin as if it were a life.