Later, they said
it was the way she kept
watching the sky, the way she kept
bending to stare at the castle swans. The way
they kept finding nettles scattered
in her bed, the way
the servants saw her stealing through
the gates at night. The way
the prince had fallen in love,
so suddenly. All reasons, surely,
to send her to the stake. Not
her silence — oh no. And not
the scars on her hands. They were
quite decent people, you understand —
all of them. Even the queen,
concerned only with the safety
of son and kingdom. Even the ministers
urging death, even the crowd
cheering on the flames. Good people,
all, with good reasons, all,
to think the girl an ogre. A witch.
A monster in disguise. Not people
who would condemn a girl
with scars on her wrists, or condemn
a girl who could not speak. No. Good people.
Decent. Kindhearted, all. With good reasons
to burn a girl at the stake.
Afterwards, others crept in
to pick over the remains, saying not a word
when the white feathers and blood
clung to their bandages, their canes. And later,
when they told the tale, they said
it had a happy ending. That the king
was good, as was the queen. They were
good people, after all. Quite decent.
And good at telling tales.