that storm was             no accident. I raised    my hands
& the clouds                           tumbled in,      lightning lashing
the sky’s          proud prow

they’d chased me        across wheat fields
& barren hills, my flame         a wrongness    reflected
in raised shovels         burning eyes    I got away
somehow,                    fistful of thunder         scream of wind
they ran

but I was wet               cold     no one in town willing
to house a living         curse    so for the price
of a lie             I slept
in the castle
in the morning             the queen stripped me
of my silken nightgown          traced the bruises
down my scapulae
proclaimed me a real girl       over scrambled eggs
& scalding coffee        the prince lay a veil
over my bare   shoulders, said I love how much you
feel                  & he
touched me     in soft places               and that   
was that           for a while

I was happy enough    with a full
belly    happy enough with you          in my arms
but if I’m telling         you      this story         little one
let me also tell you                 something true

a storm             churns inside   your blood       a          wind
howls   beneath            your skin
& if they say   you feel too little         or too much
if they strip you          of your silks    & lick their lips
at your wounds           if you realize   this is not
the life             you      would choose  for yourself
well go ahead raise    your hands      & call down
the deluge       scorch your own ending
in the broken   ground             tell       your own
sweet lies        till their knees             hitting the ground
are black
& blue

© 2021 by P. H. Low

About the Author

By P. H. Low

P. H. Low is a Malaysian Chinese American writer with work published or forthcoming in Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine,, Star*Lin, and Abyss & Apex, among others. Low attended Viable Paradise in 2019 and is currently a first reader for khōréō, a speculative fiction magazine featuring immigrant and diaspora authors and stories.