Rachel Stewart

The Plainest Ring

He builds her houses in the trees

so she can sleep

When she wakes, he brings her milk and bread

for breakfast

They sit on the branches together,

watching the sky change colors

One day, he asks her

for the plainest ring she can find

She says she doesn’t know where to go.

His feathers ruffle under his shirt

he has given her key after key

so still she sits

like a heavy branch across his chest

he tells her he can give no more


She moves so slow

her feet are not used to the ground

or the thick air of the afternoon.

He’s almost given up

in two days time

when he sees her

and the dull glint of tin

on her left ring finger.

Never Wonder Land

Listen. Just listen –

It is 1932.

She is 80. He is 28.

She fell down a rabbit hole once,

only to emerge a woman

with a dusty book filled with drawings

of her underground adventures

Now she’s sold it, to pay for her house

for who needs such nonsense

– the caterpillar, the smiling cat

that sunny day boat, all those riddles –

they are no good when you need a house.

She greets the people who have gathered

with a smile, not a curtsy.

She never wears blue anymore,

nor does she think of the man

who made her into a myth

He didn’t love her like they think

It was her older sister, her braids undone at picnics

her trailing skirts

The crowd of people is thinning

like her hair

and that is when she greets him,

The Boy Who Could Not Grow Up

and yet he has

Tall and dark,

his eyes have the same coloring as hers

that icy gray gaze

Immortality drains the colors

with its whispers and questions.

It is hard to sleep at night

when every child is falling asleep to your stories.

They have tea, and talk for awhile

He tells her he couldn’t find the second star

on the right even if he tried.

She says if she had known,

she would have never asked for more stories

“We were just children after all.

All children grow up.

Who knew we’d be punished?”

They sit in silence

She is two years from going underground forever,

buried in a garden in Lyndhurst

He is 35 years from Sloane Square

where a certain burst of light

will flutter by his ear and tell him

to jump in front of a train

because he can fly.

They do not know their ends

so they part with gentle waves,

shaking off the dead leaves

floating from the trees

like the ghosts they cannot shake.


I leave your curls

as an offering to the birds

for their summer nests

I kiss your ears, whispering hellos

to forgotten parts of you

You told me you had planned for me

to cut the ring from your hair,

a  glittering shard of purple

So I let you be my Rapunzel

fingertips touching silver

and spun gold

A nervous laugh and a few thousand snips and you’re just a boy

I’ve always loved, one that’s been hiding

in shirt pockets or purses

Rachel Cathleen Stewart holds a B.A. in English: Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Her poems have appeared in Marias at Sampaguitas, Citrine Zine, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Soft Cartel, Spill Yr Guts, TigerShark, Sequoya Review, Mannequin Envy, Poems Niederngasse, Unlikely Stories, and Slow Trains Literary Journal. Her non-fiction prose has appeared in XOJane.

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