Fairy Tales

by Janet McNally

You have a girl and you immediately think wolves,
apples, goddamned Hades rising up from a flowered

field. You want to hide the mirrors, the spindles;
smooth the sheets of every third bed. I can’t un-read

these stories, their pages sticky with honey
or milk, stand-ins for blood and the sweet

curve of bone. The darkness is full of people
breathing and the sky is too large, too empty.

In my dreams, you’re Little Red, your cloak a crimson
flag like a comet’s tail. Then you, a comet

yourself, ice and dirt and heat, trailing. This is
what I’ll tell you: paper burns. Books can be

closed, put back on the shelf. After all, it’s possible
the only way to keep from getting hurt is to move

as fast as you can, to blur the strands of light so
the only thing anyone can do is follow.

Janet McNally has published fiction and poetry in Gettysburg Review, North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Crab Orchard Review, Confrontation, and others. She is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Notre Dame, and in 2008 was awarded a fellowship in fiction by the New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches creative writing at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.

pixelstats trackingpixel