Love Poem Disguised as a Fairy Tale

by Adam Horovitz

Love Poem Disguised as a Fairy Tale

after Madame D'Aulnoy's The Girl-Fish


In her eyes, the girl she was; the hard

unthinking rifle-shot of youth. They are urgent

as a cat's yowl in the dark rooms of home

where nothing matters but the way fish

lifts wet, unspeaking from the plate.


She is deer now, but for those eyes.

They dance through me, demanding to be spared.

Another life is on her.


She whispers from the soft purse

of her deer's mouth that she still has much to do.

I love her and I always have. I never saw her until now.

I will return to my palace of books

hungry though I cannot eat for thinking of her


as she runs through the bright wood, a spare

change of terror jangling in her girl's eyes,

crab apples crunching like years beneath her feet.


My hunt is over. All I can do is wait

for the changes to cease, for the drifting powers

that drive her to other skins to calm

their churning, for her to find me again

with her girl's eyes and hope


that the woman she's becoming under feather,

hide and scale can see beyond the way

I've learned in her absence to stiffen, like a startled deer.

© Adam Horovitz