is this how all things end?
with a croak, a hiss, broken glass—
some spilled wine, a sliver of blood
and slime, trailing ever after.
tell me something else, then.
where the frog never becomes a prince.
that way she never marries a man
whose kisses are a mossy damp,
in whose breath she can smell algae
and underwater dirt as he pulls her to bed,
a sticky tongue across wet cheeks.
where the princess' golden ball remains
drowned in a green pond that yellow evening,
and she learns a lesson or two
and his eyes are still green
as a choked pond, and her father, a skeleton
barking orders at the back of her mind
and her heart, a lamp
sputtering for oil.
oh, for promise is a ring
she can never take off—
once upon a time,
the queen thinks,
in her old starless garden,
cups strewn among the weeds,
wishing that she could have been
something other than a bedtime lie
and her prince anyone but a frog
who croaks a love poem
every now and then,
© 2023 Archita Mittra