Guess My Name
I spin this straw into gold for a king.
Silken skeins pile up around the lovely
miller’s daughter. Guess my name. She is
beautiful in her poor-girl’s dress of brown
like earth. Surrounded by fine-spun gold,
she sleeps on a bed of straw. Guess my name.
My fingers are short and broad, but they were made
for spinning. I would not have the miller’s daughter
die. Guess my name. I draw the straw down, pull it
into thread fit to adorn the slim throat
of a queen. She will be queen, and I
will be alone. Guess my name. This spindle
holds her fate. I twist straw between my thumb
and finger, measure it out. There is just one
little pile of straw left. The miller’s daughter
is wringing her hands that have known work.
Guess my name. If she names me, I will not
raise her child. If she names me, I will rattle
through the castle. Lonely ghost. Guess my name.
The color of cheap fabric wrapped
around the bodies of the dead.
Binding leg to leg. Arms to body.
Lower jaw to upper jaw
and skull. What color must it turn
strapping spices to skin, aloes
and myrrh, ointments of unknown
origin. Bodies carefully washed,
dried, swathed in aromatic salve.
Oils absorbed by fibers ripped
in strips by hands mourning
moving on. The body a box
of jewels. Hardened case. Ruby heart.
Dried in a desert, compressed
in dressings wound by hands holding
court. Lazarus rose, wrappings
unfurling, fraying from furtive
movement. A frilled outer shell.
Inner, nacreous layer
gradually exposed as he walked,
dazed, from the chiseled hollow.
Iridescent in the shallow
light. Free the body hinged
to harbor skin, the body fixed
to everlasting stone.
Gabrielle Freeman‘s poetry has been published in journals such as Chagrin River Review, The Emerson Review, Gabby, Red Rock Review, and Shenandoah. She earned her MFA in poetry through Converse College. Gabrielle lives with her family in Eastern North Carolina.