From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

After the End

When the story ends—the hero’s hands wiped clean,

sword gleaming above the mantel—

there are those of us who find the belly of a castle

is no place for children who grow

like weeds, like vines, like yellow straw.

There are other predators than wolves,

upright beasts in fine cloth, with charming smiles

who can’t be stopped

with a rose or a kiss or a promise.

Sooner the belly of a wolf

whose hunger for meat and blood is honest

where given time

we might cut our own way free.

Under cover of night, we slip from too-soft beds

and flee through doors with practiced ease.

Our skills earned from years with witches,

spells and huts, where one misstep

meant hot coals, wide jaws or a hunter’s knife.

Some follow the stars or a compass of ivory.

A lucky few pull mirrors from their pockets

and whisper questions

while others put their nose to ground,

ears cocked for the baying hounds.

We find each other, join hands

as we wind through now familiar trees,

our eyes bright as mirror shards,

our feet tough as iron nails.

If asked where we’re headed, we’ll shrug, mumble

something about grandmother’s house

while we follow the whispered pull

of home, home, home.

Home

is where the woods are.

Home is where the old cottage burns to cinders

to feed the soil.

Home is where we kick off our dancing shoes

loose our hair,

bury our toes in the dirt

and grow roots

deep enough to tear down the tower

stone by stone by stone.

Home is a garden where once grew a briar,

where we bloom like apple blossoms

and shine like spun gold.

Jessica Cho

Jessica Cho

Jessica is a Rhysling Award-winning SFF writer of short fiction and poetry. Born in Korea, they currently live in New England, where they balance their aversion to cold with the inability to live anywhere without snow. Previous work has appeared in khōreō, Flash Fiction Online, Fireside, Apparition and elsewhere. They can be found at semiwellversed.wordpress.com or on Twitter @wordsbycho.