The Ogress Queen
by Theodora Goss
I can smell him: little Helios.
He smells of cinnamon
and sugar. I can smell him even though
he is down in the garden, playing with a ball
and his dog, whom he calls Pantoufle.
“Here, Pantoufle,” he cries. “Here, catch!”
I would like to catch him by the collar,
lick the back of his neck, suck up
the beads of sweat between his shoulder blades
(for it is a hot day, and there is no shade
in the castle garden except under the lime trees).
He would taste like brioche, oozing butter.
(Oh, his cheeks! so fat! so brown!
as though toasted.)
He would taste like sugar and cinnamon
And then little Aurora. She, I am convinced,
would taste of vanilla and almonds,
like marzipan. Less robust, more delicate
than her brother. I would save her for after.
Look, there she is in her white dress,
all frills and laces, like a doll
covered with royal icing,
rolling her hoop.
If I dipped her in water,
she would melt.
And walking along the path, I see
her mother, reading a book.
Love poems, no doubt — she is so sentimental.
She has kept every letter from my husband,
the king. She has kept,
somehow, her virtue intact, despite
the violation, despite the rude awakening
by two children she does not recall conceiving.
She resembles a galette:
rich, filled with succulent peaches
and frangipane. I will eat her
slowly, savoring her caramel hair,
her toes like raisins
dried from muscat grapes.
I will particularly enjoy
her eyes, which stare at me
with such limpid placidity,
as though she had not stolen my husband.
They will taste like candied citrons.
Today, today I will go talk to the cook
while the king is away at war
and order him to serve them up, one by one,
slice by slice, with perhaps
a glass of riesling. Then at last my hunger
for my husband beside me in the bed at night,
for a son to rule after him while I am regent,
for warm, fragrant flesh,
spiced and smelling of cinnamon,
may be appeased.
(The image is by Wladyslaw Theodor Benda.)